Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA)

  • SMMUSD is named a best community for music education by NAMM in 2020
    SMMUSD’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

    Our Mission

    Equity, access, and excellence in arts education for every student in every school is the vision and the goal of the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Through bringing the arts into the classroom and students to the arts, we aim to build and enhance skills and encourage students, teachers and parents to view themselves as life-long learners who are inspired by the arts and to act as creative participants in our school communities. Viewing the arts both as stand-alone subjects taught by credentialed specialists, and as powerful partners to academic subjects through interdisciplinary and arts-infused classes, we work to teach the whole child and prepare all of our students for fulfilling lives and jobs in the coming years. We also provide professional development for our teachers and administrators to enhance their classroom practices and to inspire them as creative leaders in the educational process.

    SMMUSD Visual and Performing Arts Programs

    DANCE

    Current program: "Music 'N Motion" provides district-funded dance instruction for all 3rd graders. “Dancing Classrooms” provides instruction for all 5th graders. The Santa Monica Education Foundation (SMEF) funds the Robert Gilliam dance program, providing once-a-week instruction during P.E. at John Adams, Lincoln, Malibu, and SMASH Middle Schools and Malibu High School. Santa Monica High School offers "for credit" dance classes.

    Performances: Dancing Classrooms presents an annual showcase, and Santa Monica High School presents winter and spring dance showcases each year.

    MUSIC

    Current program: All 3rd grade students are taught General Music once a week for 40 minutes. All 4th and 5th graders choose either choir, string instruments, or wind instruments and are taught 40 minute classes twice a week during school hours. The 9 elementary music teachers are credentialed and are funded by the district. A wide range of music classes are offered at all the middle and high schools. SMEF, the Gail Dorin Music Foundation, and the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation fund the Dream Strings, Dream Winds and Dream Voice programs at the four Title I elementary schools and at two of the middle schools to support students whose families cannot afford additional music instruction. Nearly half of all K-12 students participate in the district's music program!

    Performances: In addition to winter and spring concerts at all schools and the annual district wide “Stairway of the Stars” concert, Malibu High School and Samohi also present choral "Masterworks" concerts, and the Samohi Viking Marching Band participates in competitions and tournaments.

    Honors: Many of the middle and high school music ensembles participate in adjudicated festivals sponsored by SCSBOA and SCVA. Many SMMUSD middle and high school students are selected each year for honor choirs, orchestras, and bands on the regional and state levels by ACDA, CAJ, CBDA, CODA, SCSBOA, and SCVA. District students have also been chosen as finalists and grand prize finalists in the LA County Music Center "Spotlight" Awards, and have been selected for the ACDA national honor choirs, the ASTA National High School Honor Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, and the GRAMMY High School Jazz Band and Jazz Choir.

    THEATRE

    Current program: P.S. ARTS, a non-profit foundation, provides visual and performing arts instruction at all the elementary schools. The Morgan-Wixson Theatre provides opportunities for elementary students to attend theatre performances. Santa Monica Playhouse offers workshops for students and classroom teachers. SMEF and PTSAs fund after-school "non credit" drama programs at John Adams and Lincoln Middle Schools that put on spring musicals. Malibu Middle, Malibu High, Olympic High, and Samohi offer classes in acting and stagecraft technology.

    Performances: John Adams Middle School and SMASH, Lincoln Middle School, and Malibu Middle School present an all-school musical each year. Malibu High School and Santa Monica High School each perform a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. In addition, Santa Monica High School presents the cabaret-style “Public Domain” in the spring.

    Honors: Samohi students participate in the Drama Teachers of Southern California (DTASC) annual Fall Festivals and Shakespeare Festivals.

    VISUAL ARTS

    Current program: P.S. ARTS provides visual and performing arts instruction for all TK-5 students. A wide range of "for credit" art classes is offered at the middle and high schools, including drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, photography, film/video and digital design. John Adams Middle School students have participated in an international mural exchange project with a school in Kyoto, Japan. Lincoln Middle School students have participated in MOCA's Contemporary Art Start Program. Samohi students have participated in the MOCA Teen Internship program.

    Exhibits: Samohi features several art shows during the year, including the "Day of the Dead" exhibit (also featuring art by JAMS students), the AP Art Show and the Senior Art Show. Student artwork from all the district middle and high schoolsis featured in the Districtwide Visual Arts Show at Santa Monica Art Studios. Malibu Middle and High School students participate in the Malibu Music and Arts Festival.

    Honors: Malibu High School and Samohi offer AP art classes, and students from both schools have competed successfully in the LA County Music Center "Spotlight" Awards. Samohi photography students have participated and placed in the annual New York Times student photography contest.