SFUSD’s talented students show off work at Arts Festival 

This coming weekend, thousands of kids and community members will be streaming through the Asian Art Museum to see what our students have been thinking, drawing, filming and practicing all year long.

It’s the annual San Francisco Unified School District Arts Festival, a celebration of student creativity in visual, literary, media and performing arts. I can’t wait to go.

In shows past, I have seen everything from cardboard speakers made with electronic lasers to an old-school stop-action film inside a vending machine.

This year I want to get a close look at all the new paintings. I’m told there is one where a butterfly and a dragonfly hover motionlessly over a cubistlike background of colored squares and another one where the artist and two friends crowd the page for a colorful, personal, up-close effect.

I know, you’re asking yourself, “When do students find the time to paint?”

In school, that’s where! While other California public schools have been taking the arts out of budgets the last several years, we’ve actually been adding them.

And that’s thanks to the San Francisco voters. During the recession, the Public Education Enrichment Fund allowed us to not only preserve the number of elementary arts teachers, but increase staffing by 50 percent. At the same time, we increased the number of middle schoolers taking art. And we did not have to cut any arts from our high schools.

This means funding to hire talented people like Jakey Toor, a dance teacher at several of our elementary schools. Toor is known for her classes’ flash mobs, but she also puts a lot of energy into making sure the kids are developing self-esteem while also learning choreographed moves. One of her students said the other day before class started, “I want to show off my awesomeness!” Toor will be bringing students from four elementary schools to let them show off all that awesomeness at the festival.

Every student in a San Francisco school, including public, private, independent and parochial schools, is eligible to be part of the festival. This year, more than 10,000 children are showcasing their talents.

The festival is presented by the SFUSD, the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Public Library and the Arts Commission. It’s free. And it’s right in the middle of town. Bring the family and plan to be inspired.

SFUSD Arts Festival

When: Saturday, Feb. 28-Sunday, March 8 Where: Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. Admission: Free and open to the public Info: www.sfusdartsfestival.org, (415) 581-3500
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