An Altadena K-8 Arts School?
By News Desk
Dr. Benita Scheckel, the principal of Altadena Arts Magnet and Eliot Arts Magnet, recently updated the PUSD board of education on the progress of the one school, two campus K-8 span school. She described with the community’s suggestion to name both campuses Altadena Arts Magnet., Eliot Arts had been named Charles W. Eliot after a key figure in the Eugenics movement. The two campuses are so close you can see Eliot’s tower from the front steps of Altadena Arts.
Altadena Arts Magnet came under the leadership of Dr. Scheckel in 2017 and has seen an impressive expansion of programs and increase in enrollment since she began her tenure. The subsequent magnet grants for the arts with the inclusion the French Dual Language Enrollment has placed Altadena Arts as a go-to school for the PUSD.
Dr. Scheckel said, “It has been a thrill and an honor to work alongside the AAM community of students, families and educators to build the beautiful school we all dreamed of becoming.”
As enrollment has doubled at Altadena Arts, the parents whose children are in fifth grade and soon to be promoted to middle school are looking eastward to Eliot as the next destination for their children.
Michael McCarthy, president of the PTSA at Eliot, said, “I think it’s a wonderful thing for the children to have continuity in their education. The transition to middle school is hard enough, but knowing that you have the same leadership, same vision and same culture helps to ease the typical jitters preteen students experience.”
Dr. Scheckel said, ”It’s been really fun watching our AAM students and families begin to see Eliot Arts as their home.” A first grader recently told Scheckel, “I won’t be at Altadena next year, I’ll be at Eliot!” She has since explained to him that it would be a few years.
Altadena Eliot Arts Magnet recently put on an impressive musical theatre performance of Peter Pan, complete with 62 K-8 students onstage with Peter, Wendy, Michael and John flying high above the stage at the state-of-the-art Eliot auditorium.
During the bi-campus annual Art Walk, the entire K-8 community walks between the two schools to enjoy curated works of visual and performing arts. Special guest speaker. Matthew Lillard, and his wife, Heather, enjoyed the entire presentation, following the Eliot Arts drumline across Calaveras into the Eliot Arts auditorium. He spoke of the power of arts education for himself and all children and ended with a snippet of his character, Shaggy, from the Scooby Doo franchise.
Eliot Annual Fund Chairperson, Wendy Silva said, “I support the K8 model, as I have personally witnessed how it has harmoniously blended our cultures and fostered a sense of collective pride. The K-8 merger is bringing our two community schools together. Eliot has made a place in the Arts and French DLIP that are drawing families to be invested in PUSD. The inclusion of elementary students in shared events and performances on the middle school campus such as Art Night, Spring Musical and Fauxchella, along with the guidance provided by middle school students to their younger counterparts, has effectively dispelled any lingering concerns stemming from outdated narratives about Eliot. Families are now vested in the bridge between the two schools which is so important to the viability of both schools and a responsibility to the Altadena community.”
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