Author: juliekirst

Educators hope to open Christian high school in fall

A new independent Christian high school with offices in Santa Monica is seeking a site on the Westside and hopes to open in the fall. Officials of Pacifica Christian High School say their new school will be devoted to teaching students to think critically and wisely about the world around them. Plans are for Pacifica Christian High to include students of all faiths and have 80 to 100 ninth-grade students. The tenth grade will be added next year and the school will eventually have between 400 and 500 students in ninth to 12th grades, according to Jim Knight, head of the school. “This is a school for everyone, not only the elite or the disadvantaged,” Knight says. “There’s a need for a very good private school with top-notch academics where students can be encouraged in faith.” He says the school will be designed to motivate students to be excellent in their crafts but also strong in faith and to bring their faith to their work when appropriate. “We want kids to go into the community and be good scientists and be good people, and a person’s faith encourages that.” Kent Crawford, pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship, dreamed of starting the school about 15 years ago. Three years ago, educators in the church were talking about education and discussing Richard Riesen’s book Piety and Philosophy. Riesen’s philosophy of education resonated...

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Openings available for middle school students in after-school arts, performance programs after-school program for

Inside Out Community Arts — a Venice nonprofit organization offering middle school students after-school art and performance workshops —has a few remaining openings for this session’s Neighborhood Arts Project. The program is offered free of charge. In the program, students will see a professional play, write and perform their own play and participate in parent and child workshops. Actor, writer and director Jonathan Zeichner and actress Camille Ameen founded Inside Out Community Arts in 1996 to expand Zeichner’s arts-based violence intervention and prevention program started in response to the riots after the Rodney King verdict. “I saw how this wave of anger swept up kids who had nothing to do with it,” Zeichner says. Zeichner and Ameen focused on getting a program into the public school system to help disenfranchised youngsters in middle school, sixth through eighth grades. Working in eight schools around the county, the four-to-five month “School Project” meets one to two times a week on campuses after school. “Studies show most juvenile crime happens between 3 and 6 p.m. so those after-school hours are critical,” Zeichner says. Zeicher and Ameen later started the Neighborhood Arts Project, which operates year-around and offers a similar after-school arts workshop. Zeichner says many problems start in middle school as students cope with classic adolescent issues and begin to make decisions about staying in school, drugs, gangs and sexual activity. He...

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Santa Monica names new cultural affairs manager

Following a year-and-a-half vacancy, a hiring freeze and an extensive nationwide search, the Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services Department has hired Jessica Cusick as the new city cultural affairs manager. Beginning Monday, February 14th, Cusick will head the Cultural Affairs Division, which oversees the city public art program, the production of the annual Santa Monica Festival and grant programs which support numerous Santa Monica-based nonprofit arts agencies. Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services director Barbara Stinchfield noted that the city conducted a far-reaching recruitment and that Cusick — who had been a consultant for Santa Monica on one project in the past — is widely regarded nationally as an expert in public art. “It was clear to us in talking to Jessica that we’d be extremely lucky to have her. We can’t wait,” Stinchfield says. Stinchfield says that, during the time the position was vacant, Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services assistant director Karen Ginsberg ably held things together. “Karen strengthened relations with the Arts Commission and has laid good groundwork for Jessica. “I am very excited to be joining such a remarkable city,” Cusick says. “Santa Monica is a wonderful community in terms of the arts. “As a private individual I’ve availed myself of the art resources in Santa Monica. I go to events, galleries and festivals.” Cusick began her career at the New York City Public...

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State funding cuts threaten New Start nonprofit group

After 32 years of serving Santa Monica and the surrounding area, including Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Culver City, New Start — a nonprofit organization that helps the indigent and other members of society who need assistance — is about to find itself without a home, according to Anthony Smith, New Start executive director. New Start received a set amount of money through the Los Angeles County Health Department for its chemical dependency program. But because of a lack of state funds, final cuts came in October when 75 percent of New Start’s state funding for this program was eliminated. Unable to match the decreased income with donations, the nonprofit’s financial situation became critical and it could not pay its rent. Now, New Start is faced with an eviction hearing. “We will need to resolve our debt and find a place to live,” Smith says. “We need 1,800 to 2,600 square feet of office space with two group rooms holding eight to ten people each. “We also need office space for the director, administrative manager and our staff of three.” Smith says some of New Start’s other programs bring revenue into the organization but the programs operate on a sliding fee scale and if a person can’t pay, the services are provided free of charge. In order to pay salaries and bills, the organization can’t afford grant writers, so the...

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Venice group uses art in effort to heal the pain of domestic violence survivors

Since prehistoric times, people have used art to depict their triumphs, struggles and everyday life. Today, art used as therapy becomes a powerful healing tool that helps people express conscious and subconscious thoughts they might not otherwise give voice to, according to art therapy proponents. At A Window Between Worlds in Venice, founder and executive director Cathy Salser uses art to help women and children who have experienced domestic violence find their voice and sense of self. Since starting the nonprofit organization in 1991, Salser has offered her art workshops for crisis shelters, transitional homes and outreach centers throughout the U.S. With programs in 14 states, A Window Between Worlds has helped over 18,000 women and children find strength, joy and clarity through creativity. Salser says that she grew up shy, and that art was a resource that gave her a sense of safety and power to express herself without talking. In the same way, her art workshops give domestic violence survivors a chance to heal emotionally as well as develop a renewed sense of hope and possibility. This growth empowers these women when making decisions regarding the direction of their lives and how to stay safe, according to the organization. One summer after college Salser combined her desire to do something special with wanting to share the gift of art with others and traveled to 18 states across...

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