The OSA Newsletter: April 2021
Newsletter Contents:
  • Executive Director's Letter
  • Principal's Letter
  • Calendar Updates
  • Update from Advancement - Register for Heart of Oakland!
  • Updates from Academic Teachers
  • Updates from Arts Teachers
  • OSA Accolades & Awards
  • Casting & Contest Opportunities
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Letter from the Executive Director
To the OSA Community,

Today, April 1st, is quite a special day. It is the first day for our 6th grade students to return to in person instruction. The OSA Dream Team has been working behind the scenes organizing a robust plan to welcome our youngest group of students to OSA. We are proud of the work accomplished and look forward to meeting our students in person. I will be joining the 6th graders as well! I began as Executive Director eleven months ago and this will be my first day on campus with staff and students. I’m quite excited.

I would like to extend a warm thank you to our entire community. We have accomplished a tremendous amount during this extraordinary time. Our students, parents, staff and board are currently participating in the planning of OSA’s 3-year strategic plan and the writing of our Self- Study for the Oakland School for the Arts that will be submitted to the Accreditation Commission for Schools - Western Association of Schools and Colleges -WASC.  

The OSA Leadership Team, consisting of 12 members, has been meeting to build the framework for our new three-year strategic plan. Katy Zaugg, Assistant Principal, is the facilitator in leading the design process. Julie Humphrey, Science Teacher, has been organizing and facilitating the writing of our WASC document. We recently shared our self-study with the visiting team. We are looking forward to their visit to OSA in early May. 

I hope that everyone is able to get a bit of rest and enjoy their spring break, April 5th – 9th. Please take time for yourselves to enjoy your family and loved ones, and don’t forget to register for our Heart of Oakland all-school spring fundraiser on April 29th!

Have a safe and relaxing break.

Lisa Sherman-Colt
Lisa Sherman-Colt
Executive Director
Letter from the School Principal
Greetings OSA Families,

I want to extend the utmost gratitude to our school community as we near the end of what has been a most challenging year for many of us. Though spring is bringing us brighter days, there are many hurdles ahead. The high response rate to our ongoing surveys, continued presence in regular Town Halls, and family support has helped to keep us informed and connected to all of you as we work diligently to move our school forward.

With all of this in mind, today is an exciting day! For the first time since March of 2020, our hallways will be filled with the sound of excitement and enthusiasm as 5 cohorts of 6th grade students return to campus for on-campus instruction orientations. Though this is not a "return to normal", as the voices of our students will be muffled by their masks and their interaction with peers will be limited in alignment with health and safety guidelines, this is a significant development toward the day that all students can safely return to campus. The OSA team has demonstrated strength and ingenuity to overcome many obstacles in making this phase one return possible. I am personally thrilled to get to meet our 6th graders in person and can't wait to see everyone else as soon as our circumstances allow!


Mike Oz
Mike Oz
Oakland School for the Arts
Important Calendar Updates!
In alignment with Oakland Unified School District,
OSA's Spring Break takes place April 5 - 9.
There will be no classes during that week, and our building will be closed.
Also - at this point, we do not have a confirmed school start date for the fall of 2021 and will communicate it to everyone as soon as it's determined.

Mark your calendars for the evening of April 29th for our online spring fundraiser,
Heart of Oakland!
There will be live and virtual auctions, performances, and more!
As a reminder, we receive local, state, and federal funding to run a regular academic school. We are able to offer our intensive arts training only because of contributions from supportive community members like you.
Update from Advancement
Register for OSA's Heart of Oakland Spring Benefit Today!

Please join us on Thursday, April 29th at 6:00pm for a very special event! OSA's Heart of Oakland Benefit is an important event for our community to come together and support our creative youth. 

It is also an important fundraiser for OSA which will help us to close the gap between the public funds we receive and what it actually costs to run the school. Experience the talent and heart at OSA during this night of impressive student performances, an exciting auction, and more! 
Register to receive important details in advance.
Registration is Free!
Updates from our Academic Teachers:
In English 11, we have just completed our Harlem Renaissance Unit with a guest lecture by Kev Choice of the Instrumental Music Department. He spoke specifically about stride piano and several key practitioners including James P. Johnson, Willie The Lion Smith, and Fats Waller, and to the artistic, political, and social contexts of their works. He also spoke of the Harlem Renaissance's connection to the music scene of 7th Street Oakland in the 1940s (including our own Sweets Ballroom), which connects back to our Literature of Oakland unit as well. All of this contributes to students' understanding of themselves as connected to literary and other histories, and their power as artists.
During the unit, we read Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God as our central text, and are now transitioning to independent projects centered around American Short Stories, beginning with Hurston's first published short story, Drenched In Light, from 1924, and Djuna Barnes' 1914 sketch of life in New York, Come to the Roof Garden, Maud.
During the last weekend in February, two OSA teams competed in the demanding M3 Math Challenge. The international competition includes teams of three to five high school juniors and seniors from all over the U.S. and their counterparts in the U.K. Teams are given a complex, real-world problem (this year's problem was about how to equitably meet demand for broadband internet access) and must complete their own research and modeling to answer the question, which they document in a comprehensive report not to exceed 20 pages. The teams met with Mr. King for two one-hour coaching sessions on weekends leading up to the competition, and then completed the challenge on the following weekend. Once the team downloaded the challenge question the clock began ticking and they had 14 hours to research the issue, create mathematical models, and thoroughly document their efforts. Click on the links here and here to see the amazing work these teams produced under pressure in a mere 14 hours! Congratulations to both teams:

  • Beatrice Miller, Najorae Trang-Kwina & Talia Young-Skeen

  • Teo Cheng, Kai Estrella Kowal, Jiancheng Li, Aleksi Puhakka & Felix Silbelus  
OSA Physics students are currently working on a Bridge Design Project to design bridges for local scenarios to address economic, safety, and sustainability needs in the Bay Area. Way to go Physicists!
7th Grade Life Science Students are learning about Genetics and DNA. They recently extracted DNA from strawberries – at home!
Social Sciences
In 6th grade Social Studies, we spent the last few weeks of Quarter 3 working on our Ancient China Group Project. Groups of students were tasked with creating a newspaper, podcast, or video news broadcast which informed the class about what they had learned. A couple of examples of newspapers have been attached. Ms. Bradburn and Mrs. Farmer combined their classes into one large Zoom meeting for the project presentations. The students had great benefit from being in the large group Zoom. After our studies of Ancient China, we are moving to early Mesoamerica, then on to Ancient Greece after Spring Break. We will be pairing our Ancient Greece studies with a novel in English class. Between our studies of China and Mesoamerica, the students were given the opportunity to create art in which they design their own Creation Myth. We have included one of the students' poems for you to enjoy.
If water started falling from the sky
People will run and hide
The gods were sad
And their tears fell
The more mad they get
The more thunder and lightning will hit
Causing destruction near and far
Until the evening star
When the people act better the sky is clear
The gods will be show with no fear
Bright in the stars
-Polly VW.
World Language
In addition to the regular Spanish work, students in Spanish had the opportunity to reflect about the value of a global perspective with Carissa Villafaña from Global Glimpse. OSA juniors have traveled to Latin America with Global Glimpse for many years. The students were able to interview Miguel Cubas, a Global Glimpse staff member. Miguel lives in Nicaragua and has never been to the United States. This was the first time that we had a guest in our classes who zoomed in from another country. Spanish 1 students interviewed him in English, Spanish 2 and 3 students interviewed him in Spanish. It was interesting for the students to hear about the pandemic in Nicaragua. They wanted to know about traditional foods and how people celebrate. Students were also curious about how Miguel views the United States. Five of our classes have participated in this experience, and two are scheduled to speak with our guest Miguel in the coming days.
Updates from our Arts Teachers:
In Dance, we have continued our focus on working and training as MS and HS teams. 
We are focusing on students really working to take care of and handle their business as OSA students, both academically and artistically, using self-reflection, Q4 Goal-Setting setting, and working as a team with families and Student Mentors/Leaders, in an effort to push to finish out the year on a strong note.
HS students have also been working on and rehearsing material for the HeArt of Oakland benefit show!
Our next Monthly Dance Families meeting will be Tuesday, April 13 at 7pm on Zoom (stay tuned for link in email as the date approaches).
Freshman Alana Hong working on Dance in Remote Learning
Digital Media
Both Mr. Sin and Ms. Scully are working offsite on special projects. In the interim, Mr. O'Connor and Ms. Duffy are supporting our students.
Fashion Design
Fashion Design students have had a busy month! We have been busy preparing for OSA’s first ever Fashion Week. Stay tuned for more info on all the events we are planning and designs we are making to share with the community May 11th - 14th.
We miss you, Room 105, but we'll see you again before we know it!
Instrumental Music
This past Thursday, March 25th - OSA IM contributed to The Kronos String Quartet's "The Future is Now" event collaborating with six schools across the US (Schools in Hawaii, DC, New York, Dallas, and San Francisco). Altogether approximately 160 high school students had the opportunity to collaborate, meet, and make music together - sharing their stories on how the pandemic has affected their musical life. Check it out here!
Literary Arts
Lit Arts just went live with their March issue of the Telegraphand it's honestly amazing. Great stories on OSA's BSU, Theatre's innovative performances during quarantine, as well as a great interview with Dr Thompson on the Artist Speakers Series. Also: a comprehensive piece on the ever-popular WandaVision, and great interviews with students on everything from the recent violence against the Asian community, students returning to in-person school, return of sports, teacher vaccination, OSA's Anime Club, and so much more. Check it all out on
Production Design
I want to start by giving a shout-out to the awesome Production Families who are so engaged in our zoom parent meetings, wanting to help support those who cannot join us, and make the class environment a community environment, I truly appreciate you and your support. My heart goes out to all who struggle in these very hard times.

Middle School Production Design has created wonderful Virtual Backgrounds for the Theatre Production of The Addams Family and are now importing the two dimensional design, in three dimensional form in the Sketchup Application (images below).
Bailey Lake-Short, MS design for Addams Family
Lola Abajian, MS design for Addams Family
In High School Production Design, the Seniors and Juniors presented their portfolio to the class. It always amazes me to see the creativity and amount of work they do outside of school which is shared in their portfolio. Next week Sophomores and Freshman will present.
Our stage managers for the end-of-the-year productions are learning how to program and use a Stream Deck which will control remotely cloud servers.

The Fashion Show over-sized projection background is well on its way. The students collaborated with the Fashion Designers, following their themes and ideas for 33' by 16' images, some being animated (images below).
Emily Shores, HS design for Fashion Show backdrop
Al Houk, HS design for Fashion Show backdrop
Theatre had two wonderful productions come to fruition in March: bobrauschenberamerica, put on by the Physical Theatre students and our annual New Works Festival, put on by our directing and playwriting students along with middle school and high school actors. Both shows can still be streamed from our OSA YouTube Channel. Up next is a staged reading of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard April 16th and 17th at 7pm and the middle school musical The Addams Family April 30th and May 1st at 7pm.
Check out the OSA website for details as we get closer!
The Visual Art department continues to produce lots of work especially for the upcoming end of the year exhibits. There is a wide variety of projects going on across the grades. A lot of these you will get to see at the online exhibition, such as: 7th grade wearable drawing tools and the work made from them, 8th grade character development 2-D and 3-D, and 11th grade "speed paintings (done in very short amount of time)". Here are some sample images. 
Wearable Drawing Tool, Siyan Burns 7th grade
Color Character Illustration, Stella Tran 8th grade
Speed Painting, Aisling Baus 11th grade
Ongoing projects also include full department collaboration with Digital Media and Audio Production & Engineering to create a recording of While I'm In This Room - an original song by Vocal faculty Solas Lalgee for the students of OSA. We hope to share out this project for Heart of Oakland.  

We also are collaborating with SF Gay Mens' Chorus on a joint video project of "Love Can Build A Bridge" to be used for an OSA Assembly about acceptance and inclusion.

In April, HS Vocal students will begin a program with CA Jazz Conservatory - introducing music and Q&A with eminent jazz artists. We will also celebrate National Jazz Month by continuing our music therapy project with Carebuilders - students will learn and record jazz solos to be shared with the senior residents in our community.

In addition, Vocal students will begin to create their performances for our Spring Show "It's Been A Year!" On May 7 at 7pm we will have a live Zoom meeting to share group projects and then open our website to share new content from students. Save the date!
Accolades & Achievements
OSA Dance is overjoyed and beaming with pride to announce that OSA Dance Alum, Schuyler Wijsen, has been offered a Corps Contract with Boston Ballet, and will be joining the company in the Fall!

Schuyler began his Dance training journey with us at OSA in the 6th grade. Through his training at OSA, he was accepted to San Francisco Ballet School and was training both at OSA and SFBS, in his 8th and 9th grade years. He was awarded full scholarship to attend The School of American Ballet in NYC (a very competitive ballet school) in the summers of his 8th and 9th grade years and was accepted to and joined SAB's year-round program on Scholarship as a Sophomore. We could not be more proud of Schuyler and his accomplishments. Schuyler says: "I am so grateful to you guys for everything you have instilled in me. Respect, Discipline, Hard work and Passion!" 

We wish Schuyler the best in his new endeavors as a full fledged professional dancer at Boston Ballet!
OSA Vocal Music is pleased and proud to announce that Vocal Rush has won 1st place in the Western Quarter Finals of the ICHSA! The Varsity Vocals International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) is a global tournament showcasing the art of student a cappella. We are especially proud that Vocal Rush was led by original VR member Ms Sarah Vela, with a song arrangement by recent VR grad Marilyn Cliett, and Outstanding Soloist was awarded to VR senior Bentley Blalark (pictured below). Congratulations to all! We will be hosting a listening party for the ICHSA semi-finals on April 10 at 7pm. Check out the OSA website closer to the date for a link to join in the cheering squad!
OSA students were honored on March 31st by the Bay Area Creative Foundation as participants in the 2020 Creative Youth Celebration!!!!

Special Merit:
Eghosa Otokiti - screenplay

Exceptional Merit:
Talia Young Skeen - art
Asher Lockwood - film

Superior Merit:
Aryarajsinh Jlala - art
Talia Young Skeen - music
Hannah Grace Chen - music

CONGRATULATIONS to ALL - We are so proud of our amazing students!!
Today's Masterclass
We are extremely excited to announce that our Theatre alumni, Tati Gabrielle, will be joining us virtually today, Thursday April 1st at 2:00 for an all-school masterclass. Tati is an actor who has been featured on a number of notable TV series, including her work on the show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The 100, The Emoji Movie, and more. She is currently filming for her role as Marienne in the Netflix hit series, You.
All students are welcome to join! Link:
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.
We would like to share a quick note about the programs and scholarships we are offering this summer at Berridge Programs.

We have two, small, in-person summer arts programs running at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA this summer:

Spotlight is a three-week program with majors in Acting, Writing, Musical Theatre and Film:
Generate is a one-week program that centers around making and premiering original work and welcomes any Performing or Visual Arts Discipline:
We have the following scholarships available:
Merit Scholarship – $1000 award open to all applicants
Financial Need Scholarships – Flexible award up to 30% of the program tuition based on demonstrated financial need
Diversity Scholarship – Flexible award for up to 100% of the program tuition based on financial need. You can read about our scholarships at
We are very committed to our scholarship program here at Berridge with over half of our students receiving financial assistance each summer. I would be grateful if you could pass this opportunity on to your students and any colleagues in other arts departments. For reasons of Covid-19 safety, we have only 40 spaces total on each program so early application is encouraged.
The Western Governors' Foundation is proud to announce its 6th Annual "Celebrate the West" regional art competition challenging high school students to create works inspired by their state.
Here is a link to this year's contest:
Students are welcome to submit artwork used for other contests or assignments, as long as entries also depict our theme of “Celebrate the West.”
It is easy to enter- students only need to email a photograph of their artwork along with the entry form found on our website. Depending on Covid-19 restrictions, we most likely will again be conducting our final round of judging online in May 2021. We will keep you and your students posted.
The entry deadline is April 30, 2021.
We will be selecting one recipient for our Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Art Teacher. The teacher will receive $300 and recognition from the Western Governors’ Foundation.
Thank you for your continued support of OSA!
Oakland School for the Arts