The Future of the Arts
When did PADA begin at Liberty High School & what was the inspiration?
Before PADA was what it is today, it was the Arts and Humanities Academy at Liberty. At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, Katie Collins, the previous coordinator, applied for the Academy to become a California Partnership Academy. Because of this, the Academy had to focus on one career pathway within the Arts, Media, and Entertainment sector. The CDE and AHA approved the grant application and became the Public Art and Design Academy, focusing on the Design, Visual, and Media Arts career pathway. When Katie applied for the grant, she wanted Liberty's art academy to stand apart from other CPA art academies, hence the focus on public art.
What does PADA stand for & what is the program all about?
The Public Art and Design Academy (PADA) promotes visual arts as a hobby, lifestyle, and career pathway for aspiring high school students. PADA's goal is to help students study and practice ways to express their creativity and grow as individuals and as a family. Students spend time focusing on artistic skills, presentation, and post-secondary options. The Academy works to provide a closer, more personal learning environment to help students become more successful.
When did you take over the program?
I became the coordinator for the Academy during the 2015-2016 school year.
What projects has the group done at school and around town?
·2012-2019 – a variety of sculptures located at Liberty High School's Art Lawn (facing 2nd Street) – completed by PADA 10th graders
PADA seniors -
·2012 – Underwater mural at the Dog Park on Sand Creek Road
·2013 – Fruit electrical boxes downtown
·2014 – Sunflower mosaic located at 2nd Street and Brentwood Boulevard (across from Liberty)
·2015 – Marsh Creek tunnel mural
·Fall 2015 – mural inside Brentwood Library for the children's area
·Fall 2015 – a collaboration with Village Community Resource Center on a painted tree with handprints from kids.
·2016 – Animal and sport ball sculptures at Sunset Park (my first project with the Academy)
·Summer 2017 – wall ball courts at Mary Casey Black elementary school
·2017 – Oak Meadow Park Bathroom exterior mixed media mural
·2018 – Creekside Park amphitheater mural
·2019 – Sand Creek Underpass mural
·2020 – Brentwood Library Mandala Relief mural
·2021 – City Parking Garage mosaic
·2022 – City Park glass mosaic mural
·2023 – Brentwood 75th anniversary mural
·2023 – working with the Bay Area Mural Program on a mural for the Liberty HS cafeteria
How do you decide what to do next?
I work with Brentwood's Parks and Recreation Manager, Ben Keisec, to determine project locations. Without their help over the years, we would've struggled to secure locations for each project. When I meet with Ben, he has a list of possible locations for us to choose from. Depending on the group of seniors I have and their skills, we will discuss the locations and determine what will be the best fit for them as a class.
Can any LHS student join?
Since we are a California Partnership Academies program member, students can only join the Academy during their 10thor 11th-grade years. The Academy is open to any student, but priority is given to 10th-grade students struggling to find their place at Liberty. Part of the state requirements for the Academy is to ensure we are focusing on supporting students who are considered at-risk.
Do you have any future goals/ideas?
I would love to find more opportunities for the students to work with other arts organizations throughout the community. I want to provide them with as many different experiences as possible because this career pathway encompasses so many facets of possible art careers. I'm always looking for additional ways to raise money for the Academy. Every winter, we paint storefront windows downtown. The stores are always willing to give the academy donations, which we then use for scholarships for the seniors. Since 2017, the Academy has awarded around $7,000 in scholarships. I would love to be able to continue our scholarship program, so hopefully, we can continue to raise money. Anyone who would like to donate to the Academy can contact me through my email.
By: Michelle Lassle Photos by: Provided