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Posted by: Mr. Richard Helm
Published: 6/1/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

The Marilyn Magaram Center, the Institute for Community Health and Well-Being, and Neighborhood Partners in Action (NPA) at California State University, Northridge in partnership with Christopher Columbus Middle School embarked in a joint venture working effortlessly to bring nutrition and gardening education to students and parents at this school and 12 other sites.  The goal of the Champions for Change program is to reduce the risk of obesity among SNAP-Ed eligible persons and to educate children and parents on how to grow their own produce even when faced with a limited budget. At the launch of our program, we built two raised garden beds in a garden with vast land and an amazing growth potential. After working in collaboration with Christopher Columbus’ Parent Center Director, Ms. Urrutia and Principal McIntyre-Sciarrino, we gained the trust and ignited the interest of a group of parents to join our adult nutrition and gardening education classes. This group of parents has now become our Garden Committee. They have become invested in getting this garden to its full growth potential. We now have 13 beds with many different vegetables and fruits growing. We have hosted harvesting events and have been able to harvest enough produce for each family to take a sufficient amount home. In addition, we have established a relationship with the cafeteria staff who are now participating in the garden. They are ecstatic to be part of this program and to be able to grow vegetables. The partnership between the parents, cafeteria staff, and teachers continues to strengthen and expand. Our vision is to have a strong school community collaboration to ensure sustainability of the garden. This garden can be used as a learning platform for many generations of students throughout the years. 

Posted by: Mr. Richard Helm
Published: 1/28/18

Audience: Homepage, Homepage, Students, Parents, Parents and Students

Above, from left, Columbus Middle School teacher Joseph Nemchik, Principal Debra McIntyre-Sciarrino, Instructional Director Margaret Kim, School Board Member Scott Schmerelson and teacher Monique Brusca pose with the digital piano donated by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

Instrumental music teacher Monique Brusca wrote the application that brought a new digital piano and electronic keyboard to Columbus Middle School.

The battered upright piano that has accompanied generations of choirs and musicians at Columbus Middle School was replaced this week with a state-of-the-art digital model, thanks to a $10,000 grant awarded to the Canoga Park campus.

Donated by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, the Casio hybrid piano was unveiled Thursday during an assembly in the school theater. The top-of-the-line instrument emits the rich chords of a grand piano, as well as the sounds of nearly three dozen other instruments. VH1 also donated three new portable keyboards that students will be allowed to take home to practice.

The Columbus music teachers said the Casio will add a level of professionalism to their lessons that the school’s original acoustic piano – which is at least 50 years old – just can’t match.

“Our students deserve to have equipment that is as good as any other school in the country,” said Joseph Nemchik, who arrived three years ago as Columbus’ choir teacher.

The choir is just one of the opportunities offered at Columbus Middle School’s Conservatory of Music.

Added instrumental music teacher Monique Brusca, “Music is my passion, and I want to bring the same thing to my kids.”

Brusca is an award-winning music teacher whose knack for writing grant applications equals her talent as an educator. She secured the VH1 donation, along with $40,000 in band and orchestra instruments the school received last year from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

Those resources are essential to the Conservatory of Music, the small learning community that Columbus Principal Debra McIntyre-Sciarrino launched in Fall 2016. There are a full range of classes – band and orchestra, piano and guitar, choir and musical theater. The arts are integrated into all of the academic courses offered at Columbus, which also has a new Medical/Math/Science Magnet. In addition, the school is about to embark on an $80,000 upgrade of the theater’s sound and lighting systems.

Eighth-grader Amanda Mirando and teacher Joseph Nemchik accompany the school choir.

“Arts education is foundational to what we do,” McIntyre-Sciarrino said. “That’s how we begin to think about how we want our world to be.”

Thursday’s assembly was a scaled-down version of an event planned a week earlier, when VH1 and its partner, Annapurna Pictures, had arranged for the cast of the movie “Detroit” to visit the school. That event was cancelled when the Creek Fire forced the closure of San Fernando Valley schools, but McIntyre-Sciarrino still wanted to celebrate the VH1 donation.

During a first-period assembly, students were treated to a performance by the school choir, with eighth-grader Amanda Mirando playing an introduction on the new digital piano.

“It made me feel like a real musician,” said Amanda, who is taking piano lessons from Brusca during home room class.

School Board Member Scott Schmerelson also addressed the assembly, commending the principal, Brusca and Nemchik for their diligence and innovation in creating programs to appeal to their interests.

“There are children who come to school for the arts,” said Schmerelson, a retired principal. “They come for the music, they come for the band, and they come for the choir. The arts hook you into the school and make you want – and enables you – to become a successful student.”

Posted by: Mr. Richard Helm
Published: 12/15/17

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

Christopher Columbus M.S. (CCMS) played host to LAUSD School Games in partnership between Special Olympics Southern California and the Los Angeles Unified School District Nov 3rd, 2017, for a second consecutive year. Adapted Physical Education Teachers offered sports training and athletic competition programs for students with intellectual disabilities and other special needs.   This year’s  event culminated six weeks of soccer training that provided opportunities  to learn through sports competition,  developing all aspects of total  fitness needed to  compete  in any sport, and promoted  the development  of  life-long  fitness skills that  will  help student athletes lead a more productive and independent life.

Posted by: Mr. Richard Helm
Published: 11/5/17

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

Congratulations to the Conservatory of Music at CCMS in being the recipient of another fabulous donation. To do the honor was LAUSD's Beyond the Bell Music and Entertainment Coordinator Mr. Anthony White. The Conservatory of Music was one of twelve LAUSD schools to receive a bass guitar from the bassist of one of Rocks Elite Bands - Green Day. Bassist Mike Dirnt, of Green Day, donated 12 bass guitars to LAUSD to motivate our musically inclined students to work hard and pursue their dreams. In return for this wonderful gift, CCMS Conservatory of Music students are learning to play one of Green Day's biggest hits "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". They will perform it at the CCMS Winter Concert in December.

It was presented on Oct 18th to the Conservatory's Modern Rock Band Class taught by Teacher of the Year Mrs. Brusca.


Posted by: Mr. Richard Helm
Published: 10/19/17