The OSA Newsletter: February 2021
Letter from the Executive Director
To the OSA Community,
It's a pleasure to welcome everyone back to OSA after our winter break. This has been an extraordinary month where we have seen incredible change. On January 20, 2021 Joe Biden became the 46th President and Kamala Harris became the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, and the first African-American and first Asian-American Vice President. As an Oakland native, OSA has celebrated VP Harris on our social media. In fact, back in 2008, then-San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris had this to say about OSA:
I was born in Oakland and have always been invested in its safety and development. Oakland School for the Arts, a promising new educational model, is a safe haven for artistic youth who cannot afford private schools or outside arts lessons. Oakland is fortunate to have such an outstanding showcase for its talented and hardworking youth. I am keeping my eye on OSA as a strong and replicable model of educational success."
OSA feels fortunate to be held in high regard by our now-Vice President of the United States! The inauguration ceremony that we witnessed not only focused on a historical moment, but captured and highlighted the extraordinary power of the arts. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman shared a beautiful and moving piece through spoken word. Broadway stars and Grammy- and Tony- winning artists from across the country performed at the inauguration ceremony and in a magnificent evening virtual concert. The beautiful lyrics spoke deeply to our young people and sent a strong message about how the arts can have such an incredible impact on our community.
At OSA we continue to nurture the artistic talent of our students and empower them to use their artistry to make a difference in the world around them.

I would like to share some important information with the community about the tremendous amount of work that we are doing behind the scenes for second semester. This includes designing a three-year Strategic Plan, collaboratively working on our WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) renewal, aligning with our teachers as they organize into a labor union known as COSATS/CTA/NEA (The Coalition of Oakland School for the Arts Teachers and Staff) which is affiliated with the California Teacher's Association and National Education Association) and working closely with our county, state and federal government to be abreast of the current health and safety guidelines and procedures due to the pandemic.

The three-year Strategic Plan is being developed by OSA’s leadership team, a wonderful group of 13 members representing a variety of lenses at the school. We will be designing the framework of the strategic plan by accessing a number of different data points. In the coming weeks, meetings will be scheduled with students (early March), families (Town Hall March 2nd ), OSA staff (March 3rd) and the OSA Board to receive everyone's valuable input as the document is built. There will be a community review, with time to hear additional feedback and incorporate edits, prior to the final approval of the Strategic Plan.

Our Science Department Chair, Julie Humphrey, is leading OSA’s WASC Renewal. She has been working tirelessly with the OSA community with many working meetings via our weekly Professional Development time, and keeping everyone on track to complete the 5 chapters of this important analysis of the school. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges monitors, evaluates and accredits education institutions in California. We will be having a WASC virtual visit in early May and will keep the community informed as we approach
this date.

OSA Administration is attending weekly meetings with the California Charter Schools Association and Alameda County Office of Education to receive updates regarding safety and health orders coming from the federal and state government. As we hear updates, we will keep our community informed.
I hope you are staying safe and healthy.
Lisa Sherman-Colt
Lisa Sherman-Colt
Executive Director
Oakland School for the Arts
Letter from the Principal
Greetings OSA Families,
It’s hard to believe that it is already February! Time has a way of often moving so slowly in the moment and then disappearing without warning. As we enter this first day of Black History Month I want to acknowledge and honor the rich Black history and culture of Oakland and the critical role it plays in arts education. The artistic themes for the school year that our summer design team decided on are: How does your cultural identity shape you as an artist? and How has the city of Oakland influenced your art form? We Oaklanders know that our town is second to none in terms of cultural and artistic influence. Whether it be film, music, dance or our deep history of activism and social justice, the positive influence that Oakland has had on the world is remarkable and it is a well known fact that Oakland’s Black artists have been at the center of this prominence. Though the times are challenging for many of us, I encourage each of you to find time to celebrate Black history this month by reflecting on the many ways Black history shines light on our days.

With great appreciation,
Mike Oz
Mike Oz
Advancement Update

Greeting OSA Community!
Here are several announcements from the Advancement Department:
Annual Fund Update
We are blown away by all of the support we have seen this year, especially during our year-end efforts. Because of you, we are now 88% toward our $500,000 goal! We are almost there! Still, just 43% of OSA families have donated to the Annual Fund so far this school year. We continue to strive for 100% participation. If you have not made your gift to OSA, it's never too late! Please consider making your online donation today.
We are excited to share our 2020/21 Supporters page and publicly acknowledge everyone who has generously donated to OSA so far this year, THANK YOU!
Save the Date for OSA’s Heart of Oakland Spring Benefit! 
On Thursday, March 25th 5:30-7:00pm we will be presenting a virtual Heart of Oakland. This event will feature amazing work by OSA students as well as an exciting auction!

Auction Items Needed for the Heart of Oakland Spring Benefit
We are seeking to tap both your generous and creative spirit by asking for your non-monetary contribution in the form of an item, a service, hosted party, airfare, pet-sitting, gift basket, cake baking, wine tasting, tour guiding, and all of your brilliant ideas for items / services to be auctioned, raffled, or awarded to raise money for our beloved Oakland School for the Arts. No donation is too small, too silly, too boring, or not worth letting us know about.
*Due to COVID19 some auction items may need to be put on hold or post-dated until it is safe to use them, but please don’t let COVID stop you from making a donation.
If you have an auction item to contribute, please fill out this online form. Or email Kristin TT Robson at with your ideas. Let us know what you have and we'll be happy to get creative with it!
Volunteers Needed
You can be a part of OSA’s Heart of Oakland Spring Benefit! We still need volunteers to help contribute to the success of this event. There are several ways to participate. Please fill out this online form and we will contact you with more details about volunteer opportunities.

Thank you all so much for your support!
Calendar Updates
Please be aware that there is no school on Monday, February 15th, due to Presidents' Day. On that week, OSA will be operating on our four-day school week bell schedule.
Upcoming Events Include:
February 4 at 7:00 Vocal Music Winter Showcase
February 10 at 7:00 Anti-Racist Parent Education & Activism Group Meeting
February 11 at 7:00 Songwriter's Showcase Performance
February 17 at 11:00 Artist Speaker Series (more below!)
February 17 at 6:30 APT (Alliance of Parents and Teachers) Meeting
February 19 at 6:00 Parent Mixer hosted by OSA Ambassadors
February 25 at 6:15 OSA Board of Directors Meeting
March 2 at 8:30 AM OSA Community Town Hall
Audition Volunteers Will Be Needed!
Students applying for grades 7-12 will be auditioning on February 13th (as a reminder, OSA is phasing out auditions over the coming years in order to support a more equitable application process). We will need friendly and welcoming parent volunteers to help facilitate putting applicants into zoom breakout rooms to audition before our panels of judges. More information with a sign up link will be coming soon!
Updates from our Academic Teachers:
Most students have completed the second SRI test of the year. Results so far show that students are continuing to make progress in their reading, with gains across all levels, in spite of the limitations of remote learning. We also see growth in scores across demographic groups in most grades. For more information, please see the student progress monitoring report from January's OSA Board meeting.
Back in November, Algebra 1 students in Mr. King's class who were all caught up had a chance to work on a different kind of problem. This problem might seem easy at first glance, but in fact it takes a few pretzel twists to figure it out. The problem is from an 1842(!) textbook on Algebra: "A fox, pursued by a greyhound, has a start of 60 leaps. He makes 9 leaps while the greyhound makes 6; but, three leaps of the greyhound are equivalent to 7 of the fox. How many leaps must the greyhound make to overtake the fox?" Students worked together on the problem for about 1/2 hour, but it wasn't enough time to figure it out. We are hoping to get back to it as a whole class sometime soon.
By student Olive Holden

In 6th grade Earth Science:  Students were asked to design, research about, and possibly create a product with an emphasis of being conscious of the natural resources that went into the product and their impacts on the environment.
In 7th grade Life Science: Students are working very diligently to learn about cell processes - not an easy topic, but vital for basic understanding of biology. Students recently created flashcards to help with learning about the Cell Cycle. Here are some of the results: (see above and below).
By student Ryann Thornsley
Social Sciences
This month, we're sharing what our youngest and our oldest students are doing in their social science classes: Students in 6th grade Social Studies have a very interesting semester ahead of them. When we left off before Winter Break, we had just finished studying Ancient Egypt and Israel, and we're now moving into Ancient India. Our studies include Geography of the region, religious beliefs and practices, architecture, government, and social structure of the ancient civilization. The 6th graders are wonderfully engaged--most of the time they have their cameras on and are participating verbally and in the chat. Along with our physical textbook and printed workbook, students have been using Jamboard, Flipgrid, and Google Suite for Education websites and services, and are getting to be pros at virtual learning.

Meanwhile, the 12th graders have finished their semester on Economics, and now in their final semester we will be turning to the study of US Government. It didn't take long for current events to shine a spotlight on why it is so important to learn about the history and development of our political system, how it's designed to function, and why things like separation of power and checks and balances are so central to its grounding philosophy. We start with a close look at the Constitution, both for how it structures government and how it guides the ongoing struggles around civil liberties and civil rights. Later, we'll examine ideologies, the role of the media, the election process, and each of the main branches of government. One goal the course has always stressed, but seems even more necessary these days, is how people can listen to and understand opinions that might be different from their own.
World Language
This month some of our Spanish 1 classes are "travelling" to Spain as they continue to build on their cultural and geographic knowledge as well as build their vocabulary, speaking, and comprehension skills. Others are talking about feelings and describing the location of items. Our Spanish 2 classes are discussing our daily routines and are about to compare their routine during the pandemic to that of other students from around the world. In Spanish 3 students are talking about newspapers and the media in general, reviewing TV programs and providing recommendations for each other. 
Updates from our Arts Teachers:
In Dance, the HS had the opportunity to finish out S1 by participating in a Zoom MasterClass and Q&A with Mr. Ethan Kirschbaum, a former student of Mr. Savage's, who danced alongside Ms. Hurley in Savage Jazz Dance Company; danced on scholarships at LINES, San Francisco Ballet School, and Juilliard Summer Intensives; graduated summa cum laude with Departmental Honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program; has danced professionally and performed internationally with such companies as Hubbard Street II, Donlon Dance Company in Germany, and RiverNorth Dance Chicago; and is an Ailey-certified Horton teacher. This invaluable exposure and access to Industry professionals is part of OSA's commitment to being a Career Technical Education (CTE) school that is meant to prepare students for Post-Secondary and Industry.
We rounded out Q2 by asking all our Dance students to reflect on S1 and self-identify areas students struggled with the most, and using that experience and reflection to set intentions on areas for growth in the New Year. In the new year, we have been focused on getting back into our bodies and training together as a MS team and HS team. 
Our next Monthly Dance Families meeting will be Tuesday, February 9 at 7pm on Zoom (stay tuned for link in email as the date approaches).
Dance Senior, Sophia Marcus, at home.
Digital Media
At the beginning of this new year, we are collaborating on an exciting project with the East Bay Photo Collective to produce a photography show, "The Future". Our High School DM students are working with professional photographers to build their portfolios and will have the opportunity to have their work professionally printed and framed for the showcase at the end of February, beginning of March. More information about this exciting project to come.
Fashion Design
Happy New Year to everyone from Fashion Design! The students are currently working a lot on pattern making and sewing, as well as drawing and designing clothing collections this winter. Stay tuned as the whole department is working on preparing a Fashion Week event for OSA in the Spring! We also wish to share a new fashion design from 7th grader Sienna Taylor, and collaged designs from 11th grader Alyssa Alegria. 
Design by Sienna Taylor, grade 7
Designs by Alyssa Alegria, grade 11
Instrumental Music
SFJazz has graciously reached out to provide free SF Jazz online subscriptions. They have some incredible resources of both local and world-renowned players including great educational content. This is highly recommended! If interested, email your name and preferred email to From there, they will send you log-in information.

Also! Hold the date for these upcoming recitals from our IM students:
OSA Piano Recital | March 19th at 6pm
Strings Spring Recital | Wednesday, April 21st 6-8pm
OSA Instrumental Music Program Presents | Saturday May 8th 2-4pm
AP&E Spring Listening Party | Wednesday May 12th 6-8pm
OSA Piano Recital | May 19th 6-8pm
Literary Arts
Lit Arts is back in action for the Spring Semester. High Schoolers just picked their classes and are either taking Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Jordan Karnes, or Screenwriting Workshop with Amelia Whitcomb for 7th period. For 8th period, they've chosen between OSA Telegraph (journalism) with Mr. Bob, who graciously joined us for this semester, or Broadcasting with returning OSA champ, Dr. Thompson. Seniors are working on their books with Karnes--and just turned in their rough drafts! Exciting! 

Middle Schoolers are back in the news cycle, working with Karnes on the OSA Telegraph this month, and will continue working with Whitcomb on fiction and screenwriting after the January issue goes live on!
Production Design
Middle School Production Design students are hard at work, creating the virtual sets for The Addams Family musical production performed by the Theatre middle school students. They are learning how a live streamed production is put together, using cloud servers, switchers, green screens, and their set design as well as operating the camera switching between the thirteen actors who are acting at home in front of green screens! This is a great opportunity to explore and learn the evolution of online technology, and how we can apply it to a live theatre production.
The High School Production Design students are collaborating on multiple projects: claymation, a three-dimensional Clue game board, model trebuchet & ballista, a 'chill room', concept art, and our collaboration work with the Theatre and Digital Media teams on Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, which currently involves 38 proposed set designs. Mr Taylor is also working daily with half the high school class on model making - they are learning a lot, and making great progress.
Theatre's full schedule of classes and productions are well underway. We have our three main stage shows in rehearsals for spring performances: the middle school musical The Addams Family, the high school musical Spring Awakening (image below), and the high school play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. These performances are in collaboration with Production Design and Digital Media, as we present all of these shows with virtual sets and video editing using green screens and advanced live streaming technology. In addition, we are developing the dynamic play, bobrauschenbergamerica with the high school Physical Theatre students and the New Works Festival with the high school Playwriting and Directing students. 
The Visual Art department got some well-deserved rest over the holidays and celebrated the first ever all grade online exhibition(you can still view here: VAexhibition2020). Upon our return, we successfully got through the first round of the first-ever online auditions for applicants to grades 7-12. All grade levels are making good progress in the beginning of this second semester. We are excited to continue our advancement and make more work to share with our community. 
Semester 2 has been off to a busy start for Vocal Music! We have been preparing for the first show ever where every student has been offered a solo -instead of restrictions due to COVID, this has created an opportunity for all students! We will be having a Vocal Music Winter Showcase opening this Thursday Feb 4 at 7pm which will include a Zoom opening to greet OSA families before the website goes live, and attendees will be able to explore each student's webpage to learn more about them and the music they love.  

During class on Thursday, we will be enjoying a "virtual field trip" hosted by the Oakland Cultural Funding Program. This will be a musical celebration of Black History Month featuring Faye Carol and her band, and renowned Oakland rapper & activist Mistah F.A.B. Together they will be sharing music and stories of musical history for Oakland students!

We are also hosting a Songwriters Showcase the following week on February 11 at 7pm. This is open to MS & HS students to share their original songs. We expect to include students from Vocal, Theatre and Instrumental in this Showcase.  Zoom links, website info and details will be available on the OSA website. Hope you can join us!
Pathways Update

Join OSA for the next edition of our Artist Speaker Series!

Date: Wednesday, February 17th
Time: 11:00-12:00
Here's the zoom link - mark your calendar!
Special Guest speaker: Marlon West, Effects Animation Supervisor, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Don't forget- recently added to our March 31st line up is Hip Hop Graffiti Legend Fab 5 Freddy!

As a Linked Learning school, this series of events was created as a part of our commitment to transforming education into a relevant and engaging experience. OSA believes in providing our students with the opportunity to connect directly with these influential working artists.
January Students of the Month
Casting & Contest Opportunities
Please note that OSA is passing along student opportunities which were shared with us. None of these organizations are affiliated with nor endorsed implicitly by OSA.

Hindus for Human Rights and the Indian American Muslim Council have collaborated to launch a civil rights-themed essay and art competition for South Asian students, 6th to 12th grade. Find out more here!

Nickelodeon is currently running a nationwide Latinx youth open casting call, specifically for comedy and musical talent! They are casting youth who can portray age 11-16, open to all genders, who can AUTHENTICALLY portray Latinx, and who have great comedic timing, presence, physicality, energy and confidence! Singing and other special talents or skills a plus. Try not to spend more than 4 days on the material so we can make sure to see your tape sooner rather than later. Please read all the details (link below) as most questions you may have are going to be there. Submission details here If you have any questions that were not answered on the site, please feel free to contact us at
Accolades & Achievements

OSA Alumna Tati Gabrielle was recently honored in Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 directory. Tati, class of 2013, is widely known for her fan-favorite role on the Netflix hit show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Instrumental Music teachers Justin Ouellet and Kev Choice were selected for a San Jose Jazz Artist Relief Commission, along with one of our former faculty members Howard Wiley. They are the first group of 32 artists selected for SJZ Jazz Aid Fund Initiative.
San Jose Jazz Fund Grantee 2021 Justin Ouellet
Production Design Chair Jean-François Revon was recently invited as a guest speaker for the statewide CTE Program (Career Technical Education). He addressed the topic of transitioning from a traditionally hands-on artistic medium to remote curriculum as part of the California Art Media Entertainment Education Organization Professional Learning Series.
Vocal Music teacher Cava Menzies is part of the 2021 Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective (BMC) along with Instrumental Music teacher Kev Choice. The BMC is dedicated to the inclusion, recognition and advancement of Black Music and its creators and professionals within the Recording Academy and music industry at large.
And speaking of Kev Choice, this multi-disciplinary artist was also just awarded a substantial and prestigious Creatives In Place grant. These grants explore what it feels like to survive and thrive in the Bay Area during this time of great upheaval. Read more here!
Thank you for your continued support of OSA!
Oakland School for the Arts