The ArtworxLA program is an alternative that seeks to attract students through painting, photography, music and more; the goal is not to drop out of school

Elijah Rosales is 17 years old and is skilled in ceramics. However, he longs to become a tattoo artist and write a documentary of his soul.

“When I graduate from high school I also want to write music and write a book… I am a creative person,” says the young man excited about his professional aspirations.
Elijah was one of almost 150 teenagers who presented their works at the Vincent Price Art Museum of the East Los Angeles College (ELAC), thanks to the ArtworxLA program.

Rogers student Will High School, a Van Nuys high school, has overcome great difficulties in life; however, he has the firm determination to leave the juvenile justice system.

He got into trouble some time since he lacked a guide. His mother went to live in Florida and his father was not by his side.

“Elijah is a diligent and outgoing student, he has a great personality and a good sense of humor,” says teacher Allison Peck, who worked with the boy.

"He came to the ArtworxLA program with a firm attitude of finishing all the projects he proposed and has been advocating for himself in his life."

Through ArtworxLA, a nonprofit organization that works with students who did not graduate in high school time, students can access various classes in the art field at 32 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools .

Elijah Rosales with the Spanish, English and science teacher, Isabel Álvarez.

"We have classes for students in photography, painting, poetry, theater, dance and everything we do so that students are directly involved in their educational process," said Alma Villegas, Director of Development and Communications at ArtworxLA.

"The relevant thing is that students feel motivated to finish high school and get their graduation diploma," he added.

The education of adolescents is not carried out in a regular school, but in institutions where they receive personalized attention, with the objective of obtaining better results.

“I will graduate from high school next June; I would like to go to Cal State Chico to study a criminology career, ”said an enthusiastic Ruby Calzada, 17, a student at The Education Corps Pico / Union.

"I was looking for a program to get to college and I found ArtworxLA."

Ruby revealed that, before she matured in making her own decisions, she did not like school and was influenced by friends who invited her to stop attending classes.

"I didn't respect my teachers or my parents and I didn't pay attention to them," he said. "Now, my parents (Sonia Mireles and Oscar Calzada) are very happy that I changed my way of being."

Upon realizing what was happening with the girl, her parents decided to change her school.

"Ruby is a good girl with a lot of artistic talent," said Professor Aydinaneth Ortiz, who said that her students are always willing to learn and accept the opportunities they are given to be better. "In each session they show their availability to contribute their own ideas."

For more information on the program and how to get involved, you can visit:

ArtworxLA starts

In 1992, Cynthia Campoy Brophy founded the HeArt Project to address the lack of arts education programs for teenagers in Los Angeles.

This began in “For The Children,” a community center in Skid Row that soon became the LAUSD Options program, which serves alternative education students.

Ten years later, the HeArt Project was approached by the Los Angeles County Office of Education to work with its alternative schools and expanded to 15 locations.

In 2008, the program was at 25 sites and in 2010 a partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) established the first Los Angeles Academy of Arts for alternative education students, the Hollywood Media Arts Academy.

"The work we do on students is a long-term investment," said Shelby Williams-Gonzales, executive director of ArtworxLA.

“Maybe some of them need a straight path to graduation; maybe some would be lost, but they know that the doors will always be open when they want to return. ”

In the 28 years of the program, ArtworxLA has worked with 12,000 students in 50 alternative education sites in eight school districts.

The students' works have been presented at major cultural institutions in Los Angeles including the Getty, LACMA and Hammer Museum and have received scholarships at the best arts universities in the area.

“I had a wrong idea about life,” said Estefanía Guerrero, a 23-year-old girl. “I thought I could face the world alone. I did what I wanted, I went to parties with my friends; My life was pure party. ”

Estefanía dropped out of school and worked in a fast food restaurant for six years. He was paid the minimum wage and concluded that that was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

"Now I understand that my parents didn't give me that much attention because they worked hard so that I didn't lack anything," he said.

In partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, ArtwoxLA students have also established the first alternative education arts academy in Los Angeles and have published photographs, launched creative businesses, worked as assistants to professional artists, received certification in creative software and obtained university degrees in art.

Ruby Calzada (d) with ArtoworxLA teacher Aydinaneth Ortiz.

“In the life of the students there have been many obstacles at the individual level and for some, the ArtworxLA school may be the last chance they have to graduate from high school,” said Lilia “LiliFlor” Ramírez, an art teacher.

“Some time ago I worked with a boy who used drugs, came to class and discovered his talent. I encouraged him to follow art and he ended up graduating as an expressionist painter at UC Irvine University … Sometimes, apart from affection, all they need is for someone to believe in them. ”

The above is just what expresses the character and personality of Crisóforo Reza, 17, who said: “I will never waste more time, time is not recycled. I don't want to be the same, I want to be better. ”

In fact, Chrysophore has a huge passion for a career in philosophy.

"The same opportunities you had and now you don't have do not define who you are, but what you will be in the future."

Those opportunities are also to be taken advantage of by Lesley González, 16.

"Of course I'm going to graduate!" Said the young lady. "Now I believe in myself and I want to have a career in psychology or criminology."

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