Los Angeles, October 1--The County Commission on Human Relations selected California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Community Arts Partnership (CAP)  to receive the Human Relations Award for the Fifth Supervisory District citing its in-depth innovative instruction and provision of a variety of visual and performing arts programming to underserved youth throughout Los Angeles County.
Of particular merit to the Commission, is CAP's role in supporting the zerohour school initiative  at William S. Hart High School  with the Food for Thought writing project. This program brought graduate students from CalArts into Hart's English Language Learner classes to help students describe and write about their own lives. CAP has helped build cultural understanding among students of diverse backgrounds and increased language arts competency. It also assisted in desegregating a campus that had experienced racialized rioting that targeted Latino students two years ago.
"CAP did a simple, yet extraordinary thing in connecting its CalArts students with the Commission's zerohour Hart High immigrant students," said Robin S. Toma, Executive Director of the Commission on Human Relations. "The Food for Thought project gave voice to students who are all too often marginalized and the targets of prejudice and jokes. By helping the immigrant students tell their stories, the CAP program empowered a vulnerable minority and gave the majority non-immigrant students a chance to relate to the humanity and struggle of the newcomers. That undoubtedly helped make them, and all immigrants in general, more human, with dreams and challenges like all of us."
The collaboration among CAP, William S. Hart High School, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, and Lockheed Martin Company resulted in a book, Food for Thought, that captures the stories of the youth participating in this unique classroom experience.
Once completed, the publication made its debut with an open reading by students and teachers on May 7, 2008. "The students learned to express themselves better and got to play with the language, which made learning more fun," said Hart teacher Katrina Dolinsky.
Fernando, a Hart 10th grader, wrote about his life in the United States and his dreams for the future, but seemed most inspired by his memories of Guatemala. He said he acquired a love of writing from the CalArts students. "If they hadn't come to my class, I would never have learned to express myself like this," he said.
It is hoped that this publication will be an annual collaboration that will help the Hart campus continue to remain a safe, knowledgeable, and equitable institution providing outstanding educational opportunities for the entire student body.
The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has for more than 30 years honored individuals, organizations and companies that work to achieve positive intergroup relations and understanding.
The Commission's John Anson Ford Human Relations Awards luncheon will take place at Luminarias on Thursday, October 23 beginning at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant is located at 3500 Ramona Boulevard, Monterey Park, Ca. 91754. Sponsorships are available at various levels, as are program book ad submissions. For more information, contact Mary Louise Longoria at 213-974-7611 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
California Institute of the Arts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater--CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on artmaking excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.