Thirty-five members of the Westchester-Playa del Rey community joined founders of the Westchester/Playa del Rey PART (Parents Achieving Results Together) Education Foundation Thursday, September 1st, to package $6,500 worth of donations to Westchester’s seven local public schools.

The foundation, which recently received its official 501(c)3 nonprofit status, has been busy since its inception in April, seeking to find ways to improve local public schools.

A team of five professionals — who are also mothers with children near kindergarten age —started the organization after researching the merits of public school education and determining that creating an education foundation just for the communities of Westchester and Playa del Rey could make a difference.

The team has been holding monthly meetings on the first Thursday of every month in the Westchester Municipal Building Community Room, 7166 Manchester Ave., and its membership has grown from five to 200 in a few months.

In order to determine the areas of need, the group surveyed all 315 local teachers about their needs.

Then the parents began fundraising efforts by selling T-shirts at the annual Fourth of July parade, asking members for donations and collecting $100 per month from the founding members.

As part of its effort to support local public schools, the group enticed the Westchester Office Depot to donate 150 canvas bags for teachers, which were then filled with donated supplies for each teacher, including paper, pencils, and art supplies, and some larger items such as laminators and paper cutters.

The supplies were delivered Friday, September 2nd, to Cowan Avenue, Kentwood, Loyola Village, Paseo del Rey and Westport Heights Elementary Schools; Orville Wright Middle School; and Westchester High School.

The organization plans to raise more funds to help pay for more classroom aides, enrichment programs both during and after school and support for teachers for professional development activities.

Information is available on the organization’s Web site at www.partfoundation.org

YMCA ART CLASSES — The Westchester Family YMCA has begun YArts — a collection of art classes designed to promote creativity and encourage youths to develop their artistic skills.

“YArts classes range from creative writing to vocal music to graphic arts instruction,” says Christine Conradt, Y financial development associate. “Many are classes that are no longer offered in the public schools, but to which parents still want their kids to be exposed.”

Last spring, the YMCA did an extensive survey of parents to find out what types of art classes the parents want for their children at various ages.

For teenagers, dance and foreign languages such as Spanish and French were the most popular choices.

Parents of younger children preferred writing skills classes, ballet, Spanish and Japanese.

Both groups also agreed that hands-on art such as drawing, painting and graphic art were of great interest.

The first class to be offered under the umbrella of the YArts program, is a workshop for 11-to-14-year-olds entitled “LAX Passport to Art.”

The class is a collaboration between the Westchester Family YMCA and Los Angeles World Airports — the City of Los Angeles agency that operates Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and three other city-owned airports — under the direction of comic book artist David Brown.

Beginning Wednesday, October 12th, the 36-week class will meet from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoons, and will include technique instruction, guest speakers, education on the history of aviation, and field trips.

Students will learn to write, draw, design and publish their own comic book depicting the history of LAX, which LAWA will then produce and distribute as part of its educational materials for youths, said Y executive director Patricia de Felice.

“We are excited to be able to offer such a valuable program. And we’re thrilled that LAX is helping us make this happen.”

There are 15 available seats in the class.

While there is no charge to the participants, admission to the class is by invitation only.

“We are looking for 11-to-14-year-olds who will be dedicated to developing their artistic skills, committed to the group project, and who also enjoy reading comic books,” Conradt said.

Interested applicants are asked to submit an application along with an essay explaining why they should be chosen to participate.

Applications are available at the YMCA front desk or online at www.ymcala.org/wc and must be returned to the Y no later than Monday, September 12th.

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