Documentary screening commemorates the Ayotzinapa 43

Exactly one year ago, 43 student-activists in Mexico disappeared (and were massacred). Our students, led by Mariana Becerra, organized a late night screening to raise awareness of the tragedy and increase understanding of the systemic dynamics that caused it.

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More than 60 students came to Macneal commons. Pillows, blankets, and snacks made for a cozy atmosphere. Despite initial technical difficulties, the screening had a powerful impact and tears were not uncommon. First, an introductory piece called “The Missing 43” was shown. After a short intermission, “Ayotzinapa” by Xavier Robles was shown. Students left with much to ponder.



Students visit the LA Green Festival

The Green Festival is America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. Over 20,000 people attended the festival at the LA convention center this weekend, including 10 of our students.


There were tons of vendors, exhibits, informational booths, and guest speakers. The variety of different sustainability topics and products provided inspiration as well as critical consideration of “greenwashing” business strategies. Students also made many connections for the Idyllwild Arts Environmental Club. After we had our fill of knowledge and free samples, we had dinner in downtown LA before making the trek back home.

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Teaching arts at the local elementary school

After budget cuts several years ago, the smARTS program was formed by active community members who believed the arts should be an integral part to young kids’ education. Bonnie Carpenter has been taking Idyllwild Arts students to volunteer ever since the program was founded. Joann Tomsche, the campus gallery manager and teacher in the Visual Arts department, ran the smARTS program for several years.

Today was the first day this year that our students went to volunteer!

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Eight of our young artists helped in the classroom, doing everything from making songs to playing theater games to environmental art. Our students will be visiting the school on Fridays throughout the year.



New collaboration with MUSICA!

This past Monday, our orchestra students volunteered with a local music nonprofit, MUSICA!, for the first time.

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MUSICA! is a member of the internationally renown El Sistema network which uses the transformative power of music to radically change the lives of underprivileged youth. MUSICA! offers free classical music training to students of the San Jacinto Unified School District and runs the Inland Valley Youth Orchestra. MUSICA!’s  vision of using the arts to break down social barriers and foster positive human development resonates with the founding principles of Idyllwild Arts and we are proud to begin a fruitful collaboration! We hope to have our students engaged with MUSICA! on a consistent basis throughout the year as music mentors, guest composers, and performers alongside the youth orchestra.

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Guest speaker talks about conserving our desert wilderness

The first guest in our seminar series came during Sunday brunch to speak with our students about environmental activism.


Monica Argandoña is an expert on desert conservation. She completed her Ph.D. on desert conflicts and has taught widely, currently at Cal State Long Beach. Monica has worked for the California Wilderness Coalition for the past seven years and played a lead role in a successful campaign that protected over 2 million acres of desert lands through a bill sponsored by Senator Feinstein.


Idyllwild is located in a fragile desert, and too often we don’t consider the beauty and fragility of our home. Our students gained a greater understanding and appreciation of our ecosystem through Monica’s engaging talk about the uniqueness and diversity of California desert lands and the history to protect them. Monica empowered students to take action through a firsthand account about current conservation campaigns and strategies.

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After the her talk, many of the students experienced our piece of desert paradise firsthand by spending the rest of the day hiking to the top of Tahquitz peak.

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First meeting garners huge student turnout

More than 70 students and faculty crowded into the Fireside room for the first Art in Society meeting. To see such a large portion of our student body interested in making a difference in the world was inspiring!


The presentation began with a visual display of the different ways art positively influences the human condition. Specifically, art increases understanding between people, gives voice to the powerless, and can be used as a tool for social change. The creative process changes life trajectories and allows us to imagine new solutions to world problems. From Dorothea Lange’s iconic imagery of Depression-era migrant workers to El Sistema’s internationally acclaimed music training program for underprivileged youth to grassroots guerilla theater, examples spanned many artistic disciplines, cultures, time periods, and social issues. The presentation captured the spirit behind the Art in Society program and showed students the vast number of ways they can use their power and talent to change the world.

Afterwards, the nuts and bolts of the program were explained. The three core components were clearly laid out: coursework, seminar activities (including volunteer opportunities), and capstone are projects. Emphasis was placed on the fact that this program is design to support the passion of students and to encourage students to take initiative to engage the world around them. The meeting ended with a long applause, much excitement, and fruitful brainstorming of future possibilities.

A great start to a new school year!