#BTS: I, too, am America

LA Times High School Insider and PBS SoCal’s Student Reporting Labs partnered with Mendez High School and artworxLA to create a body of election-issue student created content around the theme “I, too, am America.” PBS SoCal and HS Insider are featuring these pieces on our websites and this project will come to life at a free event the evening of February 16, where students will perform written pieces and share their art.

The goal: Giving our American youth an opportunity to share their perspectives on issues that matter to them in 2017.

I Too Am America

The origin:
It was a sunny Friday afternoon when PBS SoCal Student Reporting Labs and LA Times HS Insider met for coffee and collusion. We discovered that both of our inititives were working on separate projects (Message to my Next President, Letters to the Next President) that explore student opinions on election and policy-related issues. Was there a way to connect students from different schools to share their perspectives with the community? We wanted to make it happen!

Here’s what happened next:
We joined forces with Mendez High School teacher Ben de Leon and arts education organzation ArtworxLA to connect students from schools across Los Angeles as collaborators. Seventeen writers from thirteen schools who had already authored written pieces were paired with seventeen student artists. From there, artists used their preferred medium to create an artistic representation of the written work in a cross-medium idea exchange.

I Too Am America

I Too Am America

Students met for the first time in late December. They listened, talked, and learned about the issues that mattered to one another. They brainstormed how to transpose stories into art, infusing artistic liberty while staying true to the sentiment underlying the written pieces. “I want to get it right” was overheard a lot that afternoon.

I Too Am America
Ana Guerrero, student author from Mendez HS, meets Mitchell Huntley , student composer from OSCHA.
I Too Am America
Mendez writer Juliana Foley breaking the ice with South East painter Alexia Sambrano
I Too Am America
Student teams, mid-brainstorm.
I Too Am America
Next thing we knew Mitchell Huntley was composing an accompanying score for Ana Guerrero’s story. To borrow a phrase from HS Insider’s Kyle Finck, it was an afternoon of “combustible collaboration.”

Explore the finished projects and join us for the one-night-only show that will bring this project to life on February 16.

Special thanks to our many wonderful partners at the following organizations: HS Insider, artworxLA, 826LA, and schools: South East, Granada Hills Charter, CHAMPS (Charter High School of the Arts), Mendez, St. Genovieve, Corona del Mar, East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy, Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSHA), LA River School, Etiwanda, Social Justice Humanitas Academy, and Daniel Pearl Magnet.

About LA Times HS Insider. About PBS Newshour Student Reporting Labs. About artworxLA.