VAPA Department Achieves great Goal

The California Exemplary Arts Education Award is a school program that acknowledges educational agencies that present a commitment to equity and provide students with access to art education. All kindergarten through twelfth-grade schools is eligible to apply for this award. Schools that win this award hold the title for three years and then can reapply. “EAE program allows for schools to share their art success with other schools,” The California Department of Education said.

This is a prestige award that is given to schools with great art departments, and MACES will join those schools. The art programs that are featured in MACES consist of art, dance, music, and theatre. Many of the teachers are happy and proud that their hard work and dedication paid to receive such an award.

The teachers that teach music are Ms. Rincon and Dr. Macaluso. The teachers that teach art are Ms. Cruz and Ms. Hanson. The teacher that teaches dance is Ms. Bhavika. These teachers push their students to always do their best and to always help them express their feelings. In addition to that, they also allow their students to present their skills in front of a live audience every year.

The Dance program at MACES has flourished into a class that everyone wants to take. Bhavika started teaching two dance classes: one of them is for beginners and the other is for advanced dancers that produced their routines. “My vision for this program and the students is to allow ample opportunities for students to develop self-awareness and life skills,” Bhavika said. She is currently working with a few art education partnerships to bring their experience and knowledge to the students hoping that they can relate or feel inspired to keep going. “In the end, I always want the best for the kids and I want them to choose what is best for them to grow as an individual,” Bhavika said. Winning this award means a lot because of the recognition as a unique VAPA department that is committed to equity and high standards.

Like everybody, Bhavika has role models that helped her to develop the dance program into what it is today. Bhavika’s dance mentors, Mrs. Beth Goldman and Mrs. Gilda Sahagun, encouraged her to bring out her natural talent for dance and to always believe in her strengths. Another role model is her mom, Mrs. Malti Prajapati. Bhavika’s mom has always had her back and provides endless support and constant advice. “They say, moms know, and the truth is they do,” Bhavika said. The students are also role models. The dance program is a group effort and the kids that show up every day participate and open up their minds and personalities to the work we do. “You can’t clap with one hand, meaning that I provide one hand the students provide the other and together we can clap and create this program,” Bhavika said. She is honored to be part of the department and is inspired every time she steps into the dance room.

The other program that is part of the award is the Music program. Ms. Rincon and Dr. Macaluso have done a great job pushing their students to continue to strive in their musical careers. These teachers give their students many opportunities to not only perform and showcase their talents but to also bring in artists with so much experience to talk to students about their experiences in the music industry. This has encouraged students to keep learning and to keep engaging in music.

Dr. Macaluso feels very fortunate to not only win this award but to also be part of such a great department and to also work with the dedicated students that MACES has. Winning this award does not change the fact that he wants to continue to inspire students through music. “With or without an award, I will continue to do my best to inspire students through music,” Macaluso, a teacher said. Shockingly many teachers have not been a student at schools that have won this award. “Nope, this is a first for me and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it,” Macaluso said. He has had many colleagues that have inspired him to keep going. Having great colleagues is part of it, but having great students is another. “Watching their performances and seeing their showcases have inspired me,” Macaluso said.  He is grateful for the creativity, determination, technical abilities, and commitment that are presented each day in class by the students.

The final program that is part of the award is the Art program. Ms. Hanson and Ms. Cruz have been great mentors to many young artists who express not only their feelings but who they are as a person through art. These teachers allow their students to showcase their art in the hallways of the school, and out in the community. Hanson and Cruz do a great job of allowing students to also enter art competitions and some students have won some of these competitions.

Winning this award is a validation of all the hard work that they have been doing for years. Although she knows how much love and effort not only herself but also her department has put into the art program at MACES, she still feels wonderful to be recognized by the state of California. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be recognized by California for our hard work,” Hanson, a teacher, said. This is not only a prestigious award but the highest honor an art program can achieve in the state of California. This was something that MACES always wanted to win. “We had discussed this as a dream several years ago, but we were just starting as a school,” Hanson said. 

She also hopes to show her students that they have high standards in the VAPA department for a reason. “We expect to achieve greatness,” Hanson said. She also thinks that it will inspire students to give their best effort so that they can continue to live up to the high standards that were set for themselves. “I feel proud and grateful that we can keep working towards goals that we eventually achieve,” Hanson said. She also feels grateful for all the mentors who have helped and given her information that she gives the department and students. 

What’s more important to remember is that the students make the program what it is. “Without students inspiring us, showing up, and sharing their unique creativity, there is no art program,” Hanson said. Students spend so much time and energy developing their skills in the arts. “We have so much respect for their dedication,” Hanson said. 

Similar to Hanson, Ms. Cruz feels just as lucky to be part of such a department that is wonderful and talented. “I feel so grateful to work with such a wonderful department and have students who are such incredibly talented young artists,” Cruz, a teacher said. She not only inspires her students to produce great work, but she feels inspired by her students to continue to grow and provide great instructions. 

She also always advocated for the importance of art in schools and how keeping them alive can help students. “Keeping the arts alive in schools is so important for us all and I will continue to provide a space for students to have creative expression,” Cruz said. With such a tight deadline Hanson, Rincon, and Ng believed that they should apply for the award. “ They worked super hard and managed to complete the application in one day, which was amazing,” Cruz said. Many people have mentors that they either look up to or work with, and Cruz loves working with her department. “My role models are my colleagues and the VAPA department,” Cruz said. With a very good department or group of people who aspire to reach their goals, anything is possible.

Without a doubt, the VAPA department at MACES has truly flourished in many ways, and this could only lead to a bright future for the young artist that steps into the classroom.