By Michael Aushenker
Teachers and parents at Loyola Village Elementary School in Westchester take pride in their institution’s “LoVE” acronym and nickname – and they are investing love and pride into putting together the third annual Arts Alive Festival on Saturday, Aug. 24.
The community of Westchester will be awash in the fine and performing arts this weekend, when 60 parents and an additional 30 student volunteers from Westchester Enriched Science Magnets host the festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Loyola Village Elementary’s campus, 8821 Villanova St.
”Our goal is to raise $50,000 to pay for our in-house art instructor, our copier rental and maintenance, administrative costs, and field trips,” said Loyola Village parent Lucille Asare.
That art instructor, Nickie Burrell, created Loyola Village Elementary School Art Gallery, a permanent place on campus to display student art, which will be unveiled at the festival.
Former Loyola parent Theresa Bruce remembers becoming involved with the first celebration three years ago, during her son’s last year attending.
“Even though we knew it was the right thing to put on – we’re an arts school putting on an arts festival, I think the hardest part was not knowing what to expect. Would people show up? Do we have enough volunteers? Would we make any money?” she said.
But Bruce said the festival met expectations, and she credits Lara Levicki-Lavi, event creator and former LoVE Booster Club co-president.
“Lara did a great job of assigning each class a list of what to bring,” Bruce recalled, “so all the tents and tables for the event, as well as the supplies for each class booth were donated by the class.
“Getting enough volunteers is always a challenge. We ended up working with an organization called LA Works and were able to get a great group of students from UCLA who manned one of the booths for the entire event.”
Mary Alice Johnson, who, with Asare, is co-president of this year’s booster club, said, “Each year, we endeavor to step up a notch.” Rounding out the booster club this year: treasurer Michelle Rickman and secretary DeShawn Fuller-Gough.
Although she volunteered during the festival’s inaugural year, Asare assumed a much bigger responsibility this year in assisting the school, which her third grader, Haelle, 8, and fourth grader, Sidney, 9, attend.
“I feel like naturally, this is where I’m being led to go,” Asare said.
The co-president explained how the fundraiser will continue to reflect the magnet school’s emphasis on fine arts and performing arts; the latter to include the school’s homegrown groups, the Westchester Lariats and African Drum and Dance Ensemble, and the Ballet Folkorico, a mariachi group.
“We’ve taken whatever’s not broken and we’ve brought in a lot more activities,” Asare said.
Johnson met David G. Brown through her daughter, Sumayah, 10, at the Museum of African-American Art, and wound up enlisting the Sentinel’s cartoonist for LoVE’s cause to conduct a superhero comics workshop.
Also at this year’s festival are a student-drawn chalk walk; Loyola Principal Melinda Goodall singing a classical aria, accompanied by pianist Rick Olson; and Alexa Hodzic of No Boys Allowed, a former LoVE student, performing solo. Dogtown Dogs and Komodo will be among the food trucks and concessions on the premises.
Because Loyola is a Title 1 school, Johnson explained, “60 percent of our kids are on our free lunch program.
“We’re striving to bridge that gap and keep all of our children on an equal playing field,” Johnson said. “The kids get so much fulfillment as to who they are as creative beings, and that can only raise their self-esteem.”
“This community is a vibrant community,” said Asare, who noted there has been much cooperation between parents at Loyola Village and Paseo del Rey Elementary in Playa del Rey. “I feel like we are headed in that direction with parental involvement. We are looking out for each other.”
Setting the tone, according to Johnson and Asare, is Goodall.
“Our principal is down to earth,” Asare said. “You see her on the yard before the bell rings. She’s out there with the parents and the children. She’s so involved. I like that about the school. She’s given us her guidance.”
Loyola stages several smaller fundraisers throughout the school year, ranging from a March talent show to a Hawaii trip raffle in May to a movie night. However, it’s Arts Alive Festival which best reflects the magnet school’s emphasis on the fine and performing arts, some parents say.
Said Bruce, whose son currently attends junior high school, “It’s important that people take away how vital the arts is to education and that the kids see that the community cares about the arts.”