OSA Newsletter: September 2020
Letter from the Executive Director:

To the OSA Community,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year – our 19th!

As we begin this school year, we are in an unprecedented time. As I shared in my previous letter, we are facing a triple pandemic of COVID -19, especially its disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx communities, the economic crisis, and the ongoing acts of racism throughout our country.

At OSA we are working incredibly hard to provide support to our community – our students, staff and families. I want to send a sincere thank you to the entire staff for the extra mile they are going on a daily basis.

Communication during these times is vital. At the beginning of every month, the OSA community will receive this newsletter. The purpose is to provide an overview of each department, share important news updates and acknowledge the earned accolades by members of our community

We just completed the first two weeks of school by welcoming over 800 students to OSA. We began our first day in grade level assemblies where we came together as a community and had supportive conversations regarding stepping into a new school year while working remotely. Our staff shared best practices for student learning, middle and high school daily schedules and helpful links for students to access additional support. We reflected upon pictures of the prominent murals that have been painted around the OSA building. In alliance with OSA’s vision statement below, we joined in a collaborative meeting where students could express their creative ideas and share with the group their reflections of the artwork.  

OSA’s vision statement:  

OSA Students will be creative and critical thinkers who demonstrate a commitment to equity, community, collaboration and self-reflection. Through meaningful engagement with pathway-integrated curriculum and work-based learning opportunities, graduates will be resilient and ready for college and career. Alumni will exemplify the essential value of the arts in all they do.

We have created many resources to support students and families throughout this academic year. OSA’s student support team has designed a wonderful health and wellness page that includes additional resources. Our schedule includes either weekly assemblies, advisory or student club meetings to help build community and provide a safe space for students to take a break from classes and spend valuable supportive focused time with their peers.  

In preparation for the new school year, some changes in positions were made to support OSA’s programming.

New Teachers have joined our faculty! Please join me in welcoming:
Amanda Farmer (MS English/Social Studies)
David Crane (Theatre Sub-pathway)
Dee Dee Stephens (Theatre Sub-pathway)
Nima Thananjeyan (MS Math)
Robert Bartlett (MS Education Specialist)
Bob Marcacci (HS English)
Carly Clusserath (HS Science)
Talia Winningham (HS Social Sciences)

Current teachers have accepted new roles to support OSA: Ms. Uma Joshi is our DEI Program Researcher as well as a full-time teacher in the Social Sciences department, and Dr. Delores Thompson is taking on a leadership role as part-time CTE Coordinator as well as continuing to teach Broadcasting part time. If you have questions regarding diversity, equity & inclusion at OSA, please reach out to Mr. Oz, OSA Principal. Mr. Thomas Coleman is teaching a Young Men of Color elective for High School students in addition to teaching Middle School PE, and Ms. Kris Bradburn is also teaching a high school elective The History of Oakland, Through the Lens of Art and Lake Merritt in addition to her MS teaching role.

The Leadership team has expanded! With the inclusion of Dean of Students Anna DeRoos, Head Counselor Arlyle Schultz, CTE Coordinator Dr. Delores Thompson, and Special Ed Coordinator Sara Ordaz, the management team of the school has perspective across a broader lens of the school and student needs.

This academic year will look much different than any other time in our history. Many of our events will be facilitated in new ways. We will be working closely with our families and community to share this information.

As we navigate the coming days and months, please reach out to us so that we can provide the support needed.


Lisa Sherman-Colt
Lisa Sherman-Colt
Executive Director                                                         
Letter from Principal Mike Oz:

Greetings OSA Families,

I don't even know where to begin. So much to say, so I'll just start from a place of gratitude. I am grateful to be part of this school community. In the past few months I have witnessed 110 employees, 805 students, and all of the supportive families pull together to get this school year up and running despite the incessant challenges we face. This gratitude comes from a place of acknowledgement that this work is all done as our community actively fights against racial injustice, remains locked down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, faces intensified economic hardship, and breaths in the smoke of the hundreds of wildfires that are tearing through the state. None of us are prepared to face these challenges alone. Though it may be cliche, it truly takes a village!

As we continue to push forward our team has successfully implemented 5 new course offerings, designed and launched a fully pathway integrated high school English sequence, strengthened the student access to pathway aligned career preparation, increased dual enrollment college opportunities, all while serving the highest enrollment OSA has ever seen. Remarkable!

We keep a close lens on our students who are most vulnerable in a remote learning setting. Our student support team, under the leadership of Assistant Principal Katy Zaugg, works tirelessly and endlessly to monitor student engagement and progress. Daily phone calls, detailed data analysis, and home deliveries of food and technology are just a few examples of our team's work to keep all students engaged and positioned for success.

At OSA we will keep up the good fight by standing up to racial injustice, doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and providing a brand of arts education that is unfortunately not found often enough in our school system. Please take a moment if you can to share your appreciation with our teachers. Their work is essential and our team is among the strongest out there.

In Unity,

Mike Oz
Mike Oz
Oakland School for the Arts
Advancement News:

Each year, OSA relies on philanthropic support to keep the school open and thriving. OSA’s Annual Fund exists to help fill the gap between State and Federal funding and what it actually costs to run our school. This year, filling this gap is even more crucial as we navigate the needs of remote learning while continuing to maintain our stellar arts and academic programming. This year, the suggested donation is $1,500 per student - every gift of every size is greatly appreciated. Our goal is for 100% of OSA families to participate in giving to the Annual Fund, whether that’s giving $15 or $15,000. There are plenty of ways to give. The Advancement department will be mailing out information regarding OSA's Annual Fund very soon ~ please keep an eye out for it!

Save the Date! On the evening of Thursday, October 15th, Oakland School for the Arts will host OSA Creates! A Benefit and Community Celebration for Oakland School for the Arts. This will be a very special virtual evening full of student work, performances and speakers. 
Academic News:

The Math team is excited to start this new year with your students! All families should have received Google Classroom Family Access; please email your teacher if you need help or have questions. We have put together some helpful tips for remote learning in early brainstorming sessions with students and are sharing them here with you. We'd like to introduce our newest Math teacher to you - please meet Ms. Nima Thananjeyan. She will be teaching math to our middle school students. Please join us in welcoming her to the team!

OSA is in the process of becoming a gold certified Linked Learning (Pathways) school to better integrate our arts and academic programs and ensure that students are ready to enter careers or secondary programs in the arts, as well as academic college programs. This initiative (offered to all qualified public Oakland high schools) is partially funded by Measure N, a parcel tax that provides funds to schools to develop pathway programs, increasing graduation rates and student college and career readiness. As part of this process, the OSA English department is taking the lead this year in integrating work-based learning and CTE standards into the high school curriculum. This pilot year will be an opportunity to engage all high school students through applicable work-based learning and technical skill training fused with the standards for English Language Arts. 

The Science Department is humming along with one new teacher, Ms. Carly Clussarath (High School Chemistry and Physics), and 5 returning teachers, including Mrs. Crystal Yan (8th Grade Physical Science), just returned from Maternity Leave. We are finding this interesting year full of successes, challenges and requiring flexibility as we adapt to remote teaching. Teachers count among their successes that students have good attendance, they are stopping by office hours and are already doing hands-on science. An ongoing goal for the Science Department this year will be to begin capturing Mastery levels for certain concepts to allow us to better track student growth and to give students more opportunities to absorb the science curriculum.

Social Sciences
The social sciences department is pleased to welcome 2 new teachers this year! Amanda Farmer joins the 6th grade history team and Talia Winningham will be teaching 11th grade US History, AP US History, and Mock Trial. Kris Bradburn is also offering a new high school elective course called The History of Oakland, Through the Lens of Art and Lake Merritt. The department this year will be focusing on collaboratively analyzing each of our curricula to ensure diversity and representation across the many courses. We're excited to dig in to this important work to ensure our classes remain as relevant as possible!

World Language Department
Bienvenidos al español. The World Language department, Ms. Jorcino and Ms. Schleimer, are using new tools this year to make online learning engaging, including Nearpod, Quizlet, Voces, and Flipgrid. Students at all levels have been speaking Spanish since the first day of school. We are excited to facilitate student growth in all facets of their Spanish skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening).
Artistic News:

The Dance Department is focusing on getting students back into their bodies. Students are getting back into their stretching, strengthening, and technical work (photo, right: Senior Mia Ortega). Our focus is on building a strong foundation, through focusing on the basics. Basics may not sound exciting but they are essential as they are the foundation! 
We will be holding monthly Dance Family Meetings every second Tuesday of the month at 7pm: Please join us for our first Dance Family Meeting on Tuesday, September 8 at 7pm on Zoom! (Stay tuned for Zoom meeting info).

Digital Media
Digital Media is starting the year with sound design and podcasting. We've been working creating non-fiction audio "mini-stories" about the design history or personal history of items within the home. Our high school students have also started their Thursday emphasis classes. This semester we are offering Street & Editorial Photography with Mr. Sin, Cinematography with Ms. Scully, and Stop-Motion Animation with Mr. Liam.

Both middle and high school Fashion Design have had a wonderful start to the new school year! In class we are all taking a look at local fashion trends, and how the Bay Area and Oakland fashion and style has influenced popular culture. Through researching local designers and businesses in the middle school class, and through our high school Clothes on Film unit, we are immersing ourselves in the fashion and culture right here in our backyard. If any parents out there are designers or have a local fashion business, or know others who do, please email the Chair and teacher Linda Ricciardi at Lricciardi@oakarts.org. We would love to have some guest speakers!

Instrumental Music
Instrumental music is underway during this remote learning time! From small groups, large groups, theory courses, electives, listening projects, audio softwares, even some entertaining live rehearsals, IM is exploring so many aspects of remote learning. Through it all, we are connecting and de-stressing through music. A couple main threads this year include a focus on multicultural music and software skill development. We are excited to present our projects in December.

Literary Arts
Lit Arts is off to a great start! High school students have just begun in their craft workshop classes--either poetry or fiction for period 7. Period 8 is our "Media Dynasty" hour, where they are either learning Broadcasting from the famous Dr. Thompson, or taking Journalism and contributing to the OSA Telegraph. Middle school has been working on fiction with MS Whitcomb for the fist two weeks, but will soon switch over to journalism, as part of their "Fact or Fiction" fall class.

Production Design
After just the first week of class for Production Design, students are already in the creative, very productive groove: middle school students are working on two point perspective of complex objects, and high school students are working on still life, nature, and figure drawings as well as the ever-popular Safety Class for power tools and electricity. Next week we start exploring ways to put together a play and two musicals, as live streamed production, in collaboration with Theatre and Digital Media. The students will learn how to create virtual backgrounds, and how we will mix the show live. It's never been done at OSA before, so we are really excited to see what we create with all the technological challenges we need to solve!
Thanks to Director of Technology David Smith for your help getting the PD laptops set up for the students!

Theatre started off with community building, acclimating to the digital classroom space, general curriculum info and games. As a sub-pathway we address the double pandemics afflicting our country: COVID-19 and racism. We openly discussed how these two huge issues affect us as individuals, as artists, as students, and as educators. We have made it our commitment to dismantle systems of oppression that exist within the educational system, the classroom and the theatre community. We are excited to present several productions this year, starting with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard.

The Visual Art department has started out strong by doing what we do best. DRAW DRAW DRAW. Currently we are still acclimating to our new world and making sure all students have the necessary tools to do the work for our courses. We see things smoothing out already and are strategizing for what our exhibitions will look like in our remote reality. Our students continue to amaze us with their presence, humor, and curiosity.

Vocal Music is thrilled to say that we have been joined by over 40 new students in this year! The past first few weeks were spent gathering for community building and auditions for our 6 OSA choirs - Foundational Choir, Select Ensemble, Encore, One Voice, Concert Choir and Vocal Rush. This year we are pleased and proud to have Ms. Sarah Vela return to OSA as our new music director for Vocal Rush - Ms.Vela is not only an OSA alum, she is also a founding member of Vocal Rush!

CTE Pathways
OSA is diligently working on innovative ways to connect our students with real world experiences. Currently we are creating an all school industry speaker series. Pathway-specific professionals will share their journey, and participate in a Q & A session with our students. 
Production Design Middle sChool
Some sketches from Production Design students: a still life from high school, and perspective from middle school.
IM teacher Josh Jones leading a zoom class
Instrumental Music Teacher Josh Jones and his students in a Zoom class.
Student Support Team Updates:

The OSA Student Support Team has been working with teachers, students and families in the launch of our remote learning program. Our team monitors student progress, attendance, wellness to identify areas of need for possible intervention or support. 
Within Student Support is the mental health and wellness team.  During this Remote Learning time we offer drop-in counseling services and support (no appointment necessary) during school hours M-F. We will also be offering small group counseling sessions as well as individual counseling this semester. For the time being, please refer to the following links for additional information about the mental health and family resource support that are available to you and your family right now. 
For the most up to date information visit the Family Resources Website.
Special Education:

We are proud to announce that we have hired an Education Specialist for our Middle School students. Mr. Bartlett began with us this week and is very eager to begin working with students. He comes to OSA with an extensive background in Special Education and we are extremely lucky to have him! If you have a Middle School student with an IEP, please look out for an email from him. 
Academic Counseling News:

College Application Support
Last week we hosted the first of the weekly Wednesday College Support Sessions (From 4:15-5) with guest speaker Jazz Broughton, OSA Vocal Alum from 2016! She and Jamia Morton joined our zoom call from the Oakland Promise organization. Seniors who have attended high school at a public school in Oakland for at least three years are eligible. The Great Expectations Scholarship opens in December and students whose families have an expected family contribution (EFC) of or around $10,000 should apply at https://oaklandpromise.org/
This coming week we will focus on completing the UC application and entering your A-G requirements. Seniors and their families will receive details about the workshop and recordings of the sessions will be sent out on a weekly basis.
Guest speaker and OSA Alumna Jazz Broughton at weekly College Support Session.
Artistic Accolades:

  • Kev Choice, prolific multi-instrumentalist, activist, MC, VP of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, and Oakland Cultural Affairs Commission member has also dropped an album earlier this summer called Social Distancing. Kev also is part of OSA's Instrumental Music teaching staff.

  • Literary Arts Chair Jordan Karnes has exciting news to share! They were featured/interviewed by The Cut for their podcast on the same topic, Optimism. They also just published a piece for The Believer magazine online about optimism, the Netflix docuseries Cheer, and the fight for Black lives. 

  • Former OSA student Zendaya has been nominated for Emmy! This nomination, for Best Actress in a Drama, comes for her performance in HBO's series Euphoria. Also appearing in this noted series is OSA alumni Angus Cloud.

  • Recent OSA Instrumental Music grad Hannah Mayer appears in a video playing keyboard with her Carnegie Hall Honor Jazz band in the National Youth Orchestra. Each summer, gifted young jazz musicians ages 16–19 come together as National Youth Orchestra Jazz to study with and learn from world-class jazz masters. Acclaimed trumpeter, composer, and educator Sean Jones serves as artistic director and bandleader. Thanks OSA Instrumental Music instructors Mr. Ellis, Mr. Choice, and Ms. Tian!

  • This past Wednesday, OSA Alumni Schuyler Wijsen returned to OSA to teach a Masterclass to some Dance students. Schuyler Wijsen began attending Oakland School for the Arts’ School of Dance under the direction of Reginald Ray-Savage and Alison Hurley at age 10. While at OSA, Schuyler began additional training at San Francisco Ballet School. He attended the 2016 and 2017 summer courses at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet on full merit scholarships. In the fall of 2017, at age 14 he moved to NYC and enrolled as a full-time student at SAB. Last year, Schuyler was chosen by SAB’s faculty to be nominated for the Princess Grace Scholarship, a prestigious honor only given to a single student each year. This fall Schuyler will return to SAB for his final year with hopes of receiving an apprenticeship in the New York City Ballet.
Schuyler Wijsen SAB
OSA Alum Schuyler Wijsen at New York City Ballet's SAB.
OSA Needs You!

Please visit our Volunteer Website OSA Connects to find opportunities to get involved with OSA! We believe that strong connections between school and home are vital and help support all our students. We need your help in supporting our teachers, helping to plan social time for our students and parents among grade levels and arts areas, engaging in political advocacy, and focusing on social justice through the People of Color group and our fledgling Allies group. The OSA Connects website is where you'll find links and descriptions of all our various parent groups affiliated with the school.

Something else that Oakland voters can do to support OSA is to read up on the local school board election and make some personal decisions on whom to support. As many of us saw during our charter renewal process last year, having the support of school board members who believe in OSA and the value of the arts education we offer makes a difference in the ongoing commitment to our school.
Free and Reduced Price Lunch Details & Application

OSA will continue to provide lunches to students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program during remote learning. To best meet the needs of students, we ask that all families complete the FRL application as soon as possible. Please see attached application and review information below.

Eligible students may receive meals free of charge or at a reduced rate. Student US citizenship or immigration status does not affect eligibility for free and reduced price benefits.. If there are more household members than the number of lines on the application, attach a second application. 

The only Households that do not need to turn in an application are those who have a household member receiving benefits from CalFresh, CalWORKs, or FDPIR.

IMPORTANT - Even if you don’t qualify for the meal program, we ask you complete the application. The information provided helps us with funding and compliance reporting required by OUSD. Additionally, if your student qualifies for free and reduce-price meals, he/she may also qualify for fee waivers on the SAT/ACT exam, college applications, and a fee reduction on the AP exams.
Please email completed form to frlapplications@oakarts.org
Downloadable Free/Reduced Lunch Application
More Helpful Information:

From Mr. Smith, Director of Technology:
Comcast has just made their network available for free to the public. If you see Xfinity wifi available in your list of wifi networks, then you might try this as an alternative to a hotspot from OSA. Please click here for information regarding the free access from Comcast.
Calendar Updates:

  • September 7, No School - Labor Day
  • September 8, OSA Community Town Hall 8:30 AM
  • September 24, OSA Board of Directors meeting 6:15 PM
  • September 29, OSA Community Town Hall 8:30 AM
  • October 6, OSA Quarterly Reflection 5:00 - 6:30 PM
  • October 9, No School - Teacher Work Day for end of Quarter One.
Oakland School for the Arts