Stories » Families celebrate the soul of EMCSD with art

Families celebrate the soul of EMCSD with art

By: Jasmine Velazquez 

In a colorful exhibition of creativity and community spirit, El Monte City School District (EMCSD) recently held its much-anticipated first annual "Family Art Night." The theme of art night, Harmony in Diversity, Celebrating the Soul of El Monte City School District, aimed to celebrate the district's identity via art. 

As soon as the over 550 attendees stepped onto EMCSD's Professional Development Center and Board Room, they were welcomed with a rush of excitement and expectation. Tables filled with bright supplies awaited enthusiastic participants, offering a diverse range of art activities suitable for all ages and ability levels. Parents and children bonded over joint crafts, siblings worked together on masterpieces, and neighbors shared a passion for the arts. 

It wasn't simply the artistic activities that brought families together; it was also the common experience of creating and expressing oneself collectively. Heidi Ragan, Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) who oversees EMCSD’s art programming said, “The goal was to just bring families together and have an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the arts. Parents were invited to participate as well…we had several art stations and collaborative art murals where we could [work] on a piece of artwork together.” The art activities consisted of celebrating the type of art seen in the community. Attendees' imaginations were sparked by everything from painting stones to fill planters around the board room to cutting traditional Mexican papel picado, folding Japanese origami, making Guatemalan worry dolls, molding clay animal models, and much more.

Students from numerous schools in the district added to the festivities with vibrant performances. These included cheerleading routines from Columbia’s Cheer program, dances from Rio Vista’s Conga Kids Club, enchanting musical theatre performances from Cherrylee’s Shrek and Shirpser’s Frozen, and gravity-defying breakdancing skills from Cleminson’s Breakdance 101 club. Each performance demonstrated the enormous ability and passion of the district's students and showcased the wide variety of artistic programming available across all 14 schools. El Monte City School District has been named a National Association of Music Merchants Best Communities for Music Education for three straight years and is a California School Boards Association Golden Bell winner for Music and Art Education.

“What I love about [Art Night] was enjoying all the subjects, it was pretty fun,” said Shirpser student Jayden Salcedo. Jayden played Kristoff in Shirpser’s musical adaptation of Frozen. A favorite aspect of the evening for students was the array of activities that offered them the chance to win prizes. From participating in jelly bean art murals to unique art challenges, participants eagerly dove into each task, fueled by the promise of recognition and prize rewards. “I liked that you can win badges and get more prizes,” said Jayden. 

Family Art Night celebrated EMCSD’s thriving arts community and served as an example of the unifying and uplifting power of creation. It reminded everyone in attendance that art is more than simply colors on a canvas; it is a reflection of our common humanity, able to unite people and create bonds that last far longer than a single evening.