It encouraged me to do something no one had ever told me I could do.
-High School Pathway Participant
In 2015-2016, the Foundation’s PATHWAY Program piloted the first in-school musicals theatre show writing classes in Los Angeles high schools – LAUSD’s Verdugo Hills High School and the charter school ILEAD in Van Nuys – and an after-school program at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts under the umbrella of GRoW.
Numerous studies show the strong positive correlation between students’ academic achievement, reading and math skills, attendance and higher SAT scores and their involvement in music or drama activities. Musicals offer both, plus arguably the most expressive art form – words.
Bringing musical show writing classes to primarily minority high schools was a key goal of FNAM’s commitment to help underserved youth tell their stories to the rest of the world, to create, and to collaborate. A testament to its success, the following year the moving force behind the Pathway at Verdugo Hills, Principal Ed Trimis, took it to his new school VAPA, Legacy Southgate (98% minority students). In 2016-2017 FNAM became an LAUSD Community Arts Partner.
Since the pilot, Pathway has served more than 700 students with its standards aligned curriculum.
The Foundation brought together some of the most innovative educators in the area to carve out a collaboration that offers students a full, progressive route from high school to university and beyond. Some results: FNAM has been a multi-year LAUSD community arts partner and the USC School of Dramatic Arts now offers a BFA in Contemporary Musical Theatre, the first university to offer musical theatre show writing courses as part of the regular curriculum.
In addition to a powerful learning experience for all the students, the outcome will also be a group of talented new storytellers – composers, lyricists and librettists – ready to contribute to creating the future heart and soul of the musical.