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A Santa Barbara school is one of just four in the Tri-Counties to win a state arts education award

Caroline Feraday
Franklin Elementary in Santa Barbara is one of 19 schools in the state recognized for arts excellence

Franklin Elementary school in Santa Barbara has been honored by the State for its high-quality arts education.

Students at Franklin Elementary school in Santa Barbara are practicing a traditional dance from Mexico. It’s one of the arts academy offerings at this school of around 440 students.

"This is the first year that we were able to do that with our pilot dance program specializing in Mexican folkloric dance," explained Assistant Principal Xochiti Tafoya.

Along with dance classes, the elementary age students can elect to take music class or visual arts.

"One size doesn't fit all, so if there's kids in 5th grade or 6th grade who want to dance or play sports, let's go hard on that and support them as much as we can and have them get as much practice," said Tafoya.

Tafoya says that extra investment gives the students a head start when they then move up from the elementary school.

"Dancing is a lot of hard work," says dance teacher Marisol Cabrera. "Not only are they dancers, they are musicians."

As well as body and spatial awareness, she said the students enjoy performing and wearing vibrant costumes.

The class times are extended to 90 minutes, twice the usual 45 minute length. So students can really get involved in a project, says visual art teacher Sarai Martinez.

"If I was just doing a regular class period, I'd just get a few minutes after explaining it," said Martinez. "Here they work for a longer time and can get more done and I can give them more individualized help."

The students agree, with one assuming the class only lasted for 25 minutes and not 90.

Caroline Feraday
Franklin Elementary School students take part in a dance academy class

Franklin Elementary was named one of 19 schools to win the California Exemplary Arts Education Award, and is one of just four in the Tri-Counties . Tafoya says the program is an example of a way to make learning relevant and inclusive for students.

The arts classes don’t come at the expense of academia, explains Tafoya.

"It's the whole child," she said.

Tafoya said the school is "thriving academically," and arts education completes the jigsaw, rather than being the whole puzzle.

The other schools in the Tri-Counties to be recognized with the award are: Cold Spring Elementary (Cold Spring Elementary School District), Los Berros Visual and Performing Arts Academy (Lompoc Unified School District) and Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary (Ventura County Office of Education).

The awards will be presented at the California School recognition program ceremony later this month.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.