Welcome to the Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education. Our coalition of parents, school officials, arts organizations, community and business leaders are working to keep the arts in our local schools. Join us!

October 25, 2014


Oak MS celebrated its newly renovated music room in a ceremony attended by students, teachers, parents, and administration.  Oak Principal Sally Neiser, LAUSD board member Meg Cutuli, Oak Instrumental Music Director Justin Padilla, and Superintendent Sherry Kropp served as the official ribbon cutters.




The new room marks the completion of the district's modernization projects that have been authorized and orchestrated by the school board and district administration over the past several years.  But this project had additional benefactors. Students made and signed posters to thank the Oak PTA and the Philharmonic Society for their gracious contributions.  Members of both organizations were

September 25, 2014
- by Robert L. Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts
TOMORROW'S CREATORS:  "Not every young person will go on to be an artist. But they will all be better students, employees, and citizens if they indeed have opportunities to embrace their creativity."


September 10, 2014


Sandy Hines is the music director at both Rossmoor Elementary and Weaver Elementary Schools. At both schools, she mounts an annual musical production, such as Patriotic America or Winter Holidays, for each grade level.  She directs the schools’ 4th & 5th grade choirs, which perform at various school events and the annual All District Choir Night.  She teaches her students to play the soprano recorder, and devised “Recorder Karate” as a way to keep students excited about learning music.  For each song or skill the student masters, s/he is awarded a colored belt that attaches to the recorder.  The belt colors start with white and end with black, as in the levels of achievement of martial arts.  Beads are awarded for exceptional merit and effort. She has found Recorder Karate to be a highly motivating tool to encourage all students to make progress.
She is proud to have over 15 years of teaching in LAUSD, loves working here, and particularly appreciates the support she gets from parents.  She likes learning about new technology.  She hopes to learn how to integrate 

August 20, 2014

Melissa Palmer is the new Director of Instrumental Music for McAuliffe Middle School.  She will lead Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Bands, String Orchestra, and also teach general music classes.
Ms. Palmer comes to Los Al with a strong background in music education.  She earned her music degree and teaching credential from CSU Fullerton.   She taught for three years at Yorba Linda Middle School.  For the past 7 years, she was at Canyon High School in Santa Clarita, where she directed several performing groups:  marching band, wind ensemble, symphonic band, jazz ensemble, competitive drum line, competitive color guard, and PE color guard.  Her students participated in competitions such as the Band & Orchestra Festival and the Solo & Ensemble Festival. She was named Canyon HS Teacher of the Year for 2010-11.
She is also dedicated to excellence in music education beyond the classroom.  For three years, she was the 

August 19, 2014

by Donna Chinn, organizer
Los Alamitos Alliance
for Arts Education
Mr. Chuck Wackerman is the Director of Jazz Band at McAuliffe Middle School.  He has been teaching here since 1957, and he is the Founding Father of jazz education in LAUSD.
He earned his degrees in Music and Education from USC, specializing in trumpet and drums. He began his teaching career at McGaugh in 1957.  The details of his long and storied career have been documented by several sources in the last few years:
June 19, 2014

 Marcy Sudock is a multi-faceted professional musician, conductor, and private music instructor in the Los Alamitos area.  

She is the founding artistic director and conductor of the Musique Sur La Mer Orchestras since 2001, and leads the various performing groups that are under the MSLM umbrella.  They serve every level of musical performance starting at ages 7 - 14 for La Petite Musique Children’s Orchestra, progressing to the MSLM Youth Symphony Orchestra, MSLM Chamber and Jazz Orchestra, MSLM Wind and String Ensembles, MSLM Chamber Ensembles, and the professional Musique Sur La Mer Orchestra.
The MSLM Youth Symphony Orchestra is comprised of 

June 2, 2014

-by Donna Chinn, Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education

Mrs. Rikki Jones is the founding artistic director of Los Al Dance, where she oversees 5 levels of dance ranging from beginners to advanced.  Mrs. Jones has led the dance program for all of its 15 years. She specializes in jazz technique, but includes ballet, hip hop, character and lyrical styles.  
She conceives two full-length themed dance shows annually, for which she is in charge of the narrative, original choreography, choice of music, costumes, and lighting, Some of her past shows have been “America’s Favorite Dancer”, a reality show in the style of American Idol; “Happily Ever After” a fairy tale mash-up; and “The Piano”, which followed the “life” of a grand piano in its various homes over the years.  The shows are so popular that they usually sell out.
She arranges additional performance opportunities for her most advanced students, such as Back to School Night, Homecoming, Open House, the CSULB Pyramid and a local invitational. The school Dance Team takes part in two convention - competition events each year, where the students participate in master classes.  Mrs. Jones recently added a Student Choreography Showcase at end of the year.

May 21, 2014


- by Donna Chinn, Los Al Arts; Sally Neiser & Amber Lee, LAUSD

The Los Al school district has a long and rich history of excellence in the arts.  Our strong programs in music, theatre, dance, and visual art are a result of leadership by our many dedicated arts educators.  Earlier this month, the Orange County Music and Arts Educators of the Orange County Department of Education presented their 2014 awards to “honor the accomplishments of teachers who make a difference in the lives of students through arts education”.  LAUSD is especially proud to have multiple OCMAA winners this year.  

Suzanne McElderry – Mrs. Suzanne McElderry received the award for Vocal Music - Elementary because she makes a difference in the lives of students and staff through arts education. In her role as music specialist at McGaugh, Mrs. McElderry makes music come alive in her classroom in part by connecting it to other disciplines and content students are learning.  As a result, students receive a highly rich arts experience in her classroom, but also in their core content classrooms. 

When upper grade students were studying the westward movement, Suzanne wrote and directed a westward movement themed musical.  The knowledge she gained from collaborating 

April 22, 2014

-by Barbara LeMaster, 2013-14 LAHS PTSA Reflections Chair; photo courtesy Donna Chinn

The PTSA Reflections Program has honored four students at Los Alamitos High School for their achievement in the arts.  Donnovan Hill won the category of “Literature” with his piece titled “Life Changes”.  Delaney LeMaster-Dwyer won the category of “Dance Choreography” with her artwork titled “Believe, Dream, Inspire”. Serena O’Sullivan won the category of “Visual Arts” with her artwork titled “Believe, Dream, Inspire”.  Noah Patterson won the category of “Photography” with his work titled “Sanoset”.  Colin Brown-Greaves won second place in the “Visual Arts” category.  Hailey Morales won third place.  Zachary Harwood, Noel Limfueco, Shannon Ortiz tied for Honorable Mention 1, Riko Martin IV, Taryn Lee, Christen Drake were tied for Honorable Mention 2, Lindsey d’Arnaud , Taryn Lee (another submission), Lauren Hopkins Holly Fosmire, Kelly Peterson were tied for Honorable Mention 3 in the Visual Arts category.  Kevin Christensen won second place in the Literature category, and Elizabeth Guldimann won third place.  Matthew Eclevia and Elizabeth Guldimann tied for second place in the Photography category, Elizabeth entered other pieces that earned third place and honorable mention.  All four winners were advanced to the PTA fourth district competition.  Delaney LeMaster-Dwyer was first runner up in her category, and Donnovan Hill won an honorable mention.

March 4, 2014

By Joe Landon, The Sacramento BEE

We now have an opportunity to bring arts education back into our schools in a significant way. After years of focus on standardized tests and a narrowing of the curriculum under No Child Left Behind, the “local control funding formula” sets new goals for local districts that prioritize student engagement, parent involvement, school climate, student achievement, a broad course of study – all things that the arts are known to contribute to.

In the coming months, as school boards seek input and develop their local control and accountability plans, local advocates have an opportunity to provide a teaching moment about the benefits of arts education in their district.

“As we begin to uncover the consequences of the last 10 to 15 years of the widening education gap, I hope we begin to bank on students’ abilities and potential by investing in arts learning and professional development, and this go around: truly not leave any child behind.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/03/02/6195720/viewpoints-why-teaching-art-to.html