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Organization Honors City School District for Its Arts Curriculum


The Garden Grove Unified School District has been named Arts Educator District of the Year by Arts Orange County, a nonprofit countywide arts council.

The district was chosen for the inaugural award by a panel of local art experts and patrons for "its continued investment in the arts and recognition that an appreciation of the arts in Orange County is vital for a comprehensive educational curriculum."

"We've never cut back," said district representative Alan Trudell, explaining why the district received the award. "We're one of the few school districts around that has a full arts program."

The district employs 110 instructors in vocal and instrumental music, visual arts, drama and dance for grades kindergarten through 12.

"I've always felt the arts were important here," said Bernie Jones, district arts director. "I've been here 30 years, and the administrators have consistently supported the arts program."

Jones says that the district's involvement in state, national and international arts program is also a reason for its success. The University of Japan at Nagasaki has published an arts education book, largely using Garden Grove's program and students for its research. Educators from the University of Georgia are conducting a study on the positive effects of arts education on students in the district.

"We're a district that believes in a well-rounded child, and it shows its rewards in a number of ways," Jones said.

Educators have set standards for arts education nationwide, he says. The district's elementary vocal music staff, under the direction of Claire Purcell, developed a curriculum sought by teachers from around the country. Add that to Kent Gregory, an art instructor at Fitz Intermediate School, one of the seven teachers who helped write the California State Framework for Arts, upon which the national framework was based.

"We don't have a lot of things [in the district], but we invest in quality people," Jones said. "We match up with other districts in terms of faculty. I'm proud of the students and my staff here. They're really fantastic. Its not a district that gets a lot of accolades at times, and this award has made us all feel proud."

Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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