CITY OF SAN BERNADINO, CA
Mayor Judith Vallas

Sturges Family Playhouse

Quality of Instruction & Participant Performance

The mission of the Sturges Family Playhouse, which was established in 1996, a division of Sturges Center for the Fine Arts, is to provide quality, community theater, with emphasis on involving, training, encouraging and showcasing young local talent, as well as keeping children off the streets. Musical theater productions and special events offer opportunities to receive instruction in acting, voice, choreography and stagecraft and to perform in from of public audiences. The Sturges Summer Academy is a program offered within the Sturges Family Playhouse and offers a unique instruction and performance experience to the inner city and high-risk youth of San Bernardino. Instruction is provided for kindergarten through 8th grade and includes hands-on classes in voice, acting, choreography, hair and makeup design, stagecraft and audition prep. Instructors who are experienced in the arts, cultural diversity and ethnic background, working with children of all ages, and challenging socioeconomic backgrounds teach all classes. Participants individually and collectively progress in performance ability and competency.

Program Design & Creative Content

The Sturges Summer Academy was the vision of Mrs. Thelma Press, president of Sturges Foundation and a volunteer now in the position of Director of Cultural and International Affairs for the City of San Bernardino. Mrs. Press had the very strong support of Mayor Judith Valles, City of San Bernardino, who also saw an extreme need for keeping children busy during the long summer break and expanding the children's and via the children their parents or guardians, knowledge of theater arts. Most of these children and a large percentage of the parents and guardians have had limited exposure to theater arts. The program design offers unique and invaluable training to inner city and high risk youth for six weeks during the summer in all the various aspects of performing arts and culminates in a full-fledged musical theater production in which every student has a pan, either on stage or in the back stage production. The cost to each student was only for three days per week for the six weeks. Some scholarships were presented for those children in need. Children were provided with academy T-shirts, supper and materials.

Classes were versatile and flexible and able to address the special needs of all the children, including ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), learning handicapped, language barriers, and various health situations. Barriers of self-consciousness, insecurity and fear were dispelled the first day as the children were plunged into a fun and easy introduction into the world of the performing arts. Friendships were nurtured, where there had been none and acknowledgment of individual and group victories was part of each academy session.

Creativity of the Program's Approach Toward Engaging Youth Participants

Inner city schools and schools with high risk children within the inner city were distributed materials and information about the academy. Administrators, school district and arts related personnel, in addition to enthusiastic parents publicized the academy as well.

Integration of Services, Strategies & Child Development Components

The following services were utilized as either advisory, referral or pro-active in the  Academy project: San Bernardino City Unified School District Mayor's Office - Director, Cultural & International Affairs Div. City of San Bernardino Fine Arts Commission Sturges Family Playhouse staff Theater staff - Sturges Center for the Fine Arts County of San Bernardino Child Development Agency Children's Network City of San Bernardino Parks & Recreation Dept. Sturges Foundation Prevention strategies included strict routine and behavior expectations, security at all times, monitoring all visitors to the academy, zero tolerance of substance abuse, profanity, gang-related behavior and clothing, physical or emotional harassment by other students.

Evidence of Positive Impact

Sturges Summer Academy increased the exposure to theater arts for all the children as well as their family and friends. The cultural and ethnic diversity provided an opportunity for all the children to interact together and get to know one another better. Self-esteem, stage presence and newfound abilities were routine among the children. Letters and praise from the parents and family members of the students indicate a successful program that needs to continue and expand in the future. Feedback from educators at school sites within the inner city document increased interest and participation in drama and choir classes. Several academy students showed a great aptitude for the technical aspects of theater and are pursuing opportunities to advance these skills.

Role of the Mayor & Government:

Mayor Judith Valles provided strong support for the Sturges Summer Academy. The of San Bernardino Fine Arts Commission Sturges Family Playhouse staff theater staff - Sturges Center for the Fine Arts County of San Bernardino Child Development Agency

Children's Network City of San Bernardino Parks & Recreation Dept. Sturges Foundation. Prevention strategies included strict routine and behavior expectations, security at all times, monitoring all visitors to the academy, zero tolerance of substance abuse, profanity, gang- related behavior and clothing, physical or emotional harassment by other students.

Evidence of Positive Impact

Sturges Summer Academy increased the exposure to theater arts for all the children as well as their fan-lily and friends. The cultural and ethnic diversity provided an opportunity for all the children to interact together and get to know one another better. Self-esteem, stage presence and newfound abilities were routine among the children. Letters and praise from the parents and family members of the students indicate a successful program that needs to continue and expand in the future. Feedback from educators at school sites within the inner city document increased interest and participation in drama and choir classes. Several academy students showed a great aptitude for the technical aspects of theater and are pursuing opportunities to advance these skills.

Role of the Mayor & Government:

Mayor Judith Valles provided strong support for the Sturges Summer Academy. The City of San Bernardino Fine Arts Commission provided an initial $l0,500 grant for the First year. The Director of the Cultural & International Affairs Division of the Mayor's office provided invaluable support to launch the academy.

Demonstration of Community-Wide Support:

Parents, school personnel, San Bernardino City Unified School District, City Parks & Recreation Dept., friends and family of academy students and neighbors near Sturges Center for the Fine Arts all support and encourage the Sturges Family Playhouse and the Sturges Summer Academy.

Financing of the Program:

Initial financing for the Sturges Summer Academy came from a first-time grant from the City of San Bernardino Fine Arts Commission. The Sturges Foundation waived the costs of theater rental and utilities. Additional funding came from program advertising, In-kind contributions and ticket sales to the final production.

The San Bernardino Westside Steppers Drill Team and Drum Squad

The Mayor’s Office of the City of San Bernardino proudly nominates the San Bernardino Westside Steppers Drill Team and Drum Squad for the Christina Mattin Arts Award as an innovative diversion program reaching youth at risk. The program’s involvement with a large number of governmental agencies, community organizations and residents has brought an awareness for the need to provide additional comprehensive youth and young adults programs for the purpose of crime prevention and preservation of the family unit.

Program and Mission Statement

The Westside Steppers Drill Team and Drum Squad is a prime example of an artistic program that challenges youth and young adults to learn new and creative ways to express their feelings and emotions. Through the high-spirited routines and intricate drum beats, created and taught by the different team members, audiences are able to see a direct reflection of life, a mirror, an abstraction or a projection of how team members live, think and feel. The creative chants and slogans that they proudly cheer reveal those things that they treasure and admire as well as those things that they fear.

Founded September 1, 1991, the Westside Steppers Drill Team and Drum Squad is a program that accepts youth and young adults, 4 to 25 years of age. The program provides a positive, safe environment that assists with keeping high-risk young adults out of the criminal justice system. Participants are provided an opportunity to participate successfully in activities and program workshops that provide prevention strategies that build confidence, self-esteem, discipline and commitment to themselves and their community. Parents, care providers and community members are encouraged to take an active role in making a difference in the shaping of attitudes and behaviors of our youth and young adults through volunteering their time, talent and resources. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., fifty weeks out of the year the program opens its doors to any child, teen or young adult desiring to participate. Parks, and Recreation departmental personnel, parents and grandparents who volunteer an average of 380 hours per month towards training, transporting, planning and chaperoning activities, staff the program. Team members commit an average of 26,000 hrs annually.

Established in a community better known for its heavily blighted neighborhoods, growing gang population, high rates of teen pregnancy, violence, crime and drugs, the program recruits its members with some of the same recruiting techniques utilized by the gangs. The program retains its members by providing a strong family union and loyalty, competitive uniforms with colors with which they can identify, exposure to different cities, cultures, values, traditions, challenges, competitions and drive to be the best. Over the past eight years the Westside Steppers have managed to gain the respect and admiration of its youth peers, teachers, business and community leaders throughout the county.

The Steppers serve as a beacon for young people who are too quickly entangled in the community’s despair. Through the acceptance of numerous invitations to participate in parades, competitions, performances and special events, the group is exposed to well over 100,000 spectators annually and the numbers continue to increase yearly.

The Westside Stepper Drill Team and Drum Squad has motivated many members that were failing or destine to dropout of school, to improve their grades and school attendance. After graduation from high school, many members go on to college, vocational school, or the military, always returning to motive and inspire new members coming up through the ranks.

"When they speak young people listen". No it’s not an E.F. Hutton commercial but due to the Westside Steppers’ successful interaction in the community over the years, this group has developed a phenomenal reputation and following throughout the region. The Mayor and Council recognize their positive impact on young people and have continued to give their support to the program. The Mayor and Council are very concerned about the welfare of the city’s youth, and have taken a proactive role to ensure that all youth have access to positive development programs in San Bernardino that fill the critical after-school hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.-when our young people are susceptible to the risk of getting pregnant, accessing drugs and becoming involved in gang activity. Our government leaders have provided critical support to this program through the approval of CDBG funds and city staff, without which, this program could not have operated at the level that it has over the past seven years. Other sources of financial support have come from fundraisers, community donations and resources from other agencies and organizations.

Dressed in their royal purple, silver and white, the Westside Steppers have created and performed routines that have won them numerous trophies, awards and recognition. They are highly sought after for local and regional events because of the quality of their performance. When the 53rd Presidential Inaugural Parade Committee viewed a tape of the group performance, Jeff Forbes, Director of the Inaugural Parade, personally called to say how impressed the committee was with the group and confirmed their participation in the celebration. The community was also very proud of their achievement and they showed their support when in a matter of weeks, hundreds of people and organizations raised over $22,000 to ensure the participation of the San Bernardino Westside Steppers Drill Team and Drum Squad in the 53rd Presidential Inaugural Celebration in Washington D.C.

The San Bernardino Westside Steppers Drill Team and Drum Squad is successful because it provide youth and young adults a fun and safe environment to create, to learn, to sing, to dance, to write, to perform but best of all to dream.


 
 


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