La Habra campus earns state award for exemplary arts program

The Arbolita Visual and Performing Arts Academy in the La Habra City School District has earned the 2020 California Exemplary Arts Education Award, an honor presented to just 13 schools statewide.

Young students playing ukuleles
La Habra Superintendent Joanne Culverhouse, top center, plays a ukulele with students from the Arbolita Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The school recently won a 2020 California Exemplary Arts Education Award.

To be eligible, campuses had offer instruction to all students in at least three of the five arts disciplines identified in the state’s arts standards. These include dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts. Schools also had to hit performance targets on the California School Dashboard, which is the state’s primary accountability tool.

“Experiencing visual and performing arts is a critical component of developing the whole child, and this exemplary award from the state of California allows us to showcase what the students at Arbolita are receiving each and every day,” Superintendent Joanne Culverhouse said. “I am grateful and proud of the leadership and staff for their dedication and commitment.”

Arbolita Principal Jennifer McCully-Rodriguez said her school began integrating arts into daily instruction a year and a half ago. Arbolita now offers expanded arts opportunities with support from the Lang Lang Educational Foundation, Disney Musicals in Schools, The Muckenthaler Center, The Kennedy Center and McCoy-Rigby Entertainment.

“I am extremely proud of the Arbolita community and thankful for the support of our Board of Education, La Habra City School District and La Habra community,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds. We have only just begun.”

According to the state, this year’s Exemplary Arts Education honorees represent a broad cross-section of educational delivery models, including traditional comprehensive elementary schools, magnet schools, and district and independent charters. They serve diverse demographic populations of varying sizes, from a 3,700-student urban campus to a 250-student rural school.

“We know that access to arts and STEAM is an important part of closing the achievement gap, and these Exemplary Arts schools put the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM,’” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, who announced the winners on Jan. 7. “Congratulations to these 13 schools for supporting arts and STEAM education, which prepares students to be leaders in the creative economy.”

Arbolita and the other 2020 California Exemplary Arts Education Award winners will be honored on Feb. 10 during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort along with the most recent California Distinguished Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools, National Terrel H. Bell Awardees and National ESEA Distinguished Schools.

For more information, visit the CDE California School Recognition Program web page. And here’s the full list of winners.

2020 California Exemplary Arts Education Awards

County District School
Contra Costa San Ramon Valley Unified Coyote Creek Elementary
Los Angeles Burbank Unified Joaquin Miller Elementary
Los Angeles Burbank Unified William McKinley Elementary
Los Angeles Burbank Unified Providencia Elementary
Los Angeles Burbank Unified George Washington Elementary
Los Angeles Compton Unified McKinley Elementary
Monterey Monterey Peninsula Unified Martin Luther King
Orange La Habra City Elementary Arbolita Visual and Performing Arts Academy
San Diego Chula Vista Elementary Finney (Myrtle S.) Elementary
Santa Barbara Cold Spring Elementary Cold Spring Elementary
Santa Barbara Lompoc Unified Los Berros Visual and Performing Arts Academy
Solano Fairfield-Suisun Unified Oakbrook Elementary
Ventura Ventura County Office of Education Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary