Published: March 15th, 2019

UBU Project Residency Explores Substance Abuse Prevention through the Arts at Cactus Shadows High School

Happy Youth Arts Month! The arts can be a powerful vehicle to understand our world and ourselves. They can improve student emotional well-being by providing the healing skills to express our truth and listen openly creating a sense of community and belonging. Today for Youth Arts Month, we are highlighting a story of a residency program that happened this year at Cactus Shadows High School CSHS exploring substance abuse prevention through performance. How might the arts improve school climate & contribute to student well being at your school?

The UBU Project led an arts integration substance abuse prevention residency at Cactus Shadows High School in the Cave Creek Unified School District. Over the course of five weeks, three groups of students worked with musician David Simmons to create a student-led, peer-mentoring substance abuse prevention performance piece. The outcome was a 30 minute script including four completely original songs all created by students. The piece will be presented to the entire freshman class later this year. Creating an original piece gave these kids a wonderful feeling of hope and purpose. By the end of the residency these brave, new artists were sharing aspects of themselves they’d kept hidden for years due to fear, shame and self-loathing all brought forth by their willingness to take a chance and create as a team.

Lauren Pilato observed the way students connected to each other and the challenging subject matter of the residency,

“…an amazing workshop enabling students to find their inner voices, allowing them to be heard. Through this program, we watched in amazement as students struggling with substance use and abuse, LGBTQ identities, family and home life, as well as many other life experiences, were able to connect with the program. Students are given a chance to use the arts to tackle difficult subjects and discuss their feelings openly. As a result of this residency, our student groups created four completed songs with lyrics written solely by them collaboratively. All songs have one thing in common, which is that they exude a message of hope. As a culminating activity, a script was written which highlights the words and thoughts of the students working on the project. It will be presented for our ninth graders by our student performers.” -Lauren S. Pilato, Prevention Coach, Cactus Shadows High School

Here is an example of a song lyric created by these students. This song, a heavy-metal tune entitled “Break That Cycle” has also been arranged for concert band and choir and will performed next fall as part of the CSHS “Red Ribbon Week” celebrating substance abuse prevention in the schools. This tune is the finale’ of the script they created:

Break That Cycle, (By CSHS Falcon Pride Academy, 5th period)


VERSE 1: I felt hopeless, worthless, trapped in my mind

Being knocked over ev’ry single time

Give me a break for once, just be kind

Obliterate my box, I’m not a mime


PRE-CHORUS 1: Break that cycle, I’m runnin’ outta time


CHORUS 1: Talking to people: Something better!

Drawing I feel: Something better!

Makes me not stress: Something better!

I have hope, that is something better!


VERSE 2: Think I might drown, Reaching for ground

Stumbling around, waiting to be found

I am bound, feeling like a clown

Bring myself up not drag myself down!


PRE-CHORUS 2: Break my cycle, my heart is pounding!


CHORUS 2: Talking to people: Something better!

Walking in nature: Something better!

Makes me not stress: Something better!

I have hope, that is something better!


BRIDGE:  Pulling, pulling, pull myself up

Holding, holding, holding on tight

Pulling, pulling, pull myself up

Holding, holding, holding on tight


PRE-CHORUS 1: Break that cycle, I’m runnin’ outta time


CHORUS 3: Talking to people: Something better!

Spitting out my rhymes: Something better!

Makes me not stress: Something better!

I have hope, that is something better! 


VERSE 3: Do you have something better in mind?

Do not fall, learn how to climb!

Why should you be stuck in a bind

Here’s something to do with your time


PRE-CHORUS 3: Break your cycle, get out of that grind!


CHORUS 4: Talking to people: Something better!

Music! ….: Something better!

Makes me not stress: Something better!

I have hope, that is something better!


CHORUS 5: Talking to people: Something better!

Petting fluffy dogs: Something better!

Makes me not stress: Something better!

I have hope, that is something better!


PERFORMER 3 (speaks during riff): Sing it with us, “I have hope, that is something better!” Here we go; 


ALL: I have hope, that is something better!


Have a great youth arts story to share in your school or community? Email us at [email protected] or tag us on social media with the hashtag #AZYouthArts

Posted in Spotlight, Uncategorized |
Published: March 13th, 2019

Arts Education Data Makes its Debut on the AZ School Report Card

Today in honor of Youth Arts Month we are thrilled to unveil that Arts Education is one of the first subject areas outside of federally required reporting included in the new AZ School Report Card system.

Who has access to arts education in Arizona? What arts courses are offered in my child’s school? How many students are enrolled in dance courses in my county? The Arts Education Explorer can tell you that information. Now, this information makes it’s debut on the Arizona Department of Education’s School Report Card accountability system: Please take some time to explore the Report Card system and the Arts Education dashboard.

The Office of Arts Education is committed to supporting the right of EVERY Arizona student to receive a quality arts education and access to arts learning opportunities. In the future we are working to integrate these two platforms to provide parents, students, and districts with improved transparency around what arts education looks like at each district and school around the state. Empowered with information, we hope you are inspired to move Arizona forward toward a future where ALL children have access to a well-rounded education that includes the arts. Happy Youth Arts Month Everyone!Have a great youth arts story to share in your school or community? Email us at [email protected] or tag us on social media with the hashtag #AZYouthArts

Posted in Arts Associations Updates, Spotlight, Uncategorized, What's New In The Arts? | Tagged , , , , , |
Published: March 11th, 2019

2019-2020 ‘Kid’s Safe Online’ Cyber Security Awareness Calendar Contest Winners

Today, in honor of Youth Arts Month, we are featuring the excellent artistry of the winners of the 2019-2020 Cyber Security Awareness Calendar Contest. View winning artworks from each grade level here.

This year’s contest received over 1200 entries. Students demonstrated their understanding through the arts of online safety concepts including: Cyber Bulling, Cybersecurity, Cyber Safety and Phishing, Malicious Code, Social Networking, Mobile Media Devices, Inappropriate Texting, Inappropriate Materials for Kids, and Safe Use of the Internet.

Winners will be recognized in an award ceremony on March 22nd in the atrium of the Arizona Department of the Administration building & will have their artworks featured in the 2019-2020 calendar. Many congratulations to this year’s winners! Check out this year’s excellent artwork promoting online safety.


Featured Images

10th Grade Winner: Anti-Bullying (Westview High School)

7th Grade Winner: Pull the Plug on Cyberbullying (Basha Chandler High School)

Posted in Spotlight, Uncategorized | Tagged |
Published: March 8th, 2019

Nogales Mural Partnership with Ben’s Bells

Happy Youth Arts Month! Today we are highlighting collaboration in arts education between a school district and a community organization. The Nogales Unified School District partnered with Ben’s Bells to create murals promoting kindness at two of their school sites. Ben’s Bells is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach individuals and communities about the positive impacts of intentional kindness and to inspire people to practice kindness as a way of life.

Kathy Scott, grants director at Nogales Unified School District commented, “We are promoting the arts and creating a safe school by working with Ben’s Bells to create murals at Lincoln and Welty Elementary Schools. What I like about this is that the project is engaging students, teachers, parents, and community members in something with lasting value.”

Ben’s Bells representative Brittney Fitzgerald works with students Julissa Cruz, Junnybia Cruz, and Miranda Meyers at Lincoln Elementary School.

Students Andrea Quijada, Jake Gonzalez, and Nicolas Coronado from Welty Elementary School use lace to add texture to their pieces of the mural.

The Office of Arts Education is proud to highlight a district using their federal funds to promote social and emotional education through the arts in a way that adds lasting beauty to their school community! Thanks for a great example of what community partnerships can contribute to the arts education at our schools. Happy Youth Arts Month!

Have a great youth arts story to share in your school or community? Email us at [email protected] or tag us on social media with the hashtag #AZYouthArts

Posted in Spotlight, Uncategorized |
Published: March 7th, 2019

The Molly Blank Fund – ASU Gammage Teaching Artists Program 2019-2020 Cohort Application is Open

The TAP program, which spans the 2019-2020 school year, trains artists in the Kennedy Center arts integration method to be able to teach workshops in K-12 schools. The training also comes with a $500 stipend and the opportunity to be listed on the ASU Gammage Teaching Artist Roster for future employment opportunities. Any interested artists (theatre/spoken word, dance, music, or visual arts) should apply online. For questions, please contact [email protected].

Application Link:

Informational flyer: The Molly Blank Fund TAP 2019-2020

Applications will close on March 31, 2019. Applicants will be notified by April 21, 2019.


Posted in Opportunities, Spotlight, Uncategorized | Tagged , |
Published: March 6th, 2019

Celebrating Excellence in Music Education

March 1st signaled the start of spring in Arizona – and here at the Department of Education, it signaled the start of Arizona Youth Arts Month! To celebrate, we are highlighting incredible achievements in Arizona Arts Education in music, dance, theatre, and media arts throughout the month of March. 

Today we honor four exceptional music educators across Arizona, from Mesa to Moon Valley to Show Low. Each of these educators have been recognized the Arizona Music Educators Association for their excellence in music education. Combined, they have dedicated more than 85 years to Arizona students and the arts. 


Eric Zimmerman Band, Orchestra & Guitar Teacher, Moon Valley High School 

Eric Zimmerman taught music at Independence High School for 19 years. During that time he taught band, orchestra and choir.  While there he served as solo/ensemble chair, instrumental chair and was a member of the AMEA board, as Vice President for High School Activities.  After a stint in administration he has returned to the classroom at Moon Valley High School where he teaches band, orchestra and guitar. 

Eric has been married to his wife Molly for the last 28 years and their son Mark is a senior tuba player at Deer Valley working on making All State again. 

Jennifer Randle Orchestra Specialist, Mesa Public Schools 

Jennifer Randle is the Orchestra Specialist for Mesa Public Schools in Mesa, AZ. She is involved in hiring music teachers for the district, mentoring and supervision of orchestra teachers, and overseeing orchestra programs and special events throughout the district. She is also the orchestra director at Kino Junior High in Mesa. Jennifer has had an extensive career teaching orchestra and other music classes for over 35 years. She is currently in her 27th year teaching orchestra in Arizona. Throughout her career, Jennifer has been an advocate for supporting music programs in public schools and providing the opportunity for all students to participate in quality music courses. She is Associate Principal Cellist with the Chandler Symphony and plays with several string groups in the Phoenix area. 

Anneka Kotterman Music Teacher, Whipple Ranch Elementary 

Anneka Kotterman is currently in her 10th year as a music educator in Arizona.  After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2009, she taught K-6 General Music at Homer Davis Elementary School in Tucson, AZ.  While at Homer Davis, Anneka directed an after school choir for grades 4-6, wrote and directed an original musical production, and served as the band and orchestra assistant.   

During her time in Tucson, she served as the Children’s Choir Director at Catalina United Methodist Church, the Son Life Singers Director at Northminster Presbyterian Church, as well as the co-founder and director of the Bumblebee Choir with the Tucson Girls Chorus.  Mrs. Kotterman returned to Show Low in 2012 to teach choir and drama at Show Low Jr. High School.  While directing school concerts and productions, she pursued a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.   

Anneka is also the co-founder and director of the White Mountain Children’s Chorus.  She has been a guest soloist with the White Mountain Symphony Orchestra and enjoys singing with the White Mountain Chorale.  Anneka began her service to the Arizona Society of General Music in 2011 when she was elected as Secretary.  She has since served as President-Elect, President, and now Past-President.  Mrs. Kotterman is currently the music teacher at Whipple Ranch Elementary School in Show Low, which services Kindergarten through second graders.  Anneka enjoys cooking, watching UofA basketball, and spending time with her family.   

John Snyder Secondary Choral Festival Coordinator, Mesa Public Schools 

A native of New Jersey, John received his BA of Arts Degree in Music Education from Glassboro State College which is now Rowan University, located in Glassboro, New Jersey. He taught in New Jersey for seven years, with two years as a Band/General Music Teacher and the remaining five years as a Choir/General Music Teacher. He moved to Arizona in 1990, waiting two and a half years before obtaining a teaching position as there was no teacher shortage at that time and no positions open.  

In the Spring of 1993, John received a call from Mesa Public School to interview for a choral position at Powell Jr. High School with no guarantees that he would have a position the following school year. He is extremely happy to say he is now approaching his 26th year in the Mesa Public School District. His entire career has been dedicated to shaping and molding junior high students to be the best singers/musicians as possible and preparing them to continue their studies at the high school level.  Since coming to Mesa, he has taken on the role of the MPS Secondary Choral Festival Coordinator, MPS Junior High Honor Choir Coordinator and the MPS District Secondary Choral Specialist. Outside of Mesa Public Schools, John is the Music Director/Organist/Choir Director for Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mesa. 

Have a great youth arts story to share in your school or community? Email us at [email protected] or tag us on social media with the hashtag #AZYouthArts

Posted in Arts Associations Updates, Spotlight, Uncategorized, What's New In The Arts? |
Published: March 1st, 2019

March is Youth Arts Month!

In March the Arizona Department of Education celebrates Youth Arts Month! This year we will highlight stories and educators from around the state with daily blog posts & weekly social media blasts.

Do you have an arts education story that you would like to feature on our blog? We would like to hear from you about the Youth Arts Education happening around the state. Please send your photos and stories to us at the Arts Education Inbox: [email protected]. You can also tag your photos on social media with #AZYouthArts #AZArtsED

Arizona arts educators, administrators, community organizations, and students work hard every day engaging in arts learning activities that are an essential part of a well-rounded education. Our world needs more of the creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, and social engagement that the arts develop. Take time this month to CELEBRATE young artists, their mentors, advocates, and supporters!


Haley Honeman

Posted in Arts Associations Updates, Opportunities, Spotlight, State of the Arts, What's New In The Arts? | Tagged |
Published: January 22nd, 2019

American Indian Student Art Show & Sale

Call for artists in grades 7 – 12! DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: MARCH 18 – MARCH 25, 2019, by 4:00 P.M

Heard Museum Guild Student Art Show and Sale: March 30- April 1, 2019

Student artists are invited to submit work for the 33rd Annual Heard Museum Guild American Indian Student Art Show & Sale (SASS)!

The event features the artwork of American Indian students in grades 7-12 from communities across the United States. In 2018, 400 artists participated in the SASS entering more than 500 pieces of original artwork with the opportunity to earn ribbons and cash awards and to sell their work to the public. 

Teachers with students participating in the 2019 show may apply for art supply grants for the 2019/2020 school year.

New in 2019! Shipping cost waivers are available upon request and review

Learn more and download the application form at Questions? Email [email protected]

Here’s what teachers are saying about the 2018 show:

“My kids love to participate in this show! They like the opportunity to show off their work, sell it, win a prize, and see other students’ work!”

“The show is an opportunity for our students to have their work seen in a large venue. We are a school in a very remote location and we are glad to have a place to have the work viewed and put up for sale.”

“I like the show. The facilitators are easy to work with. It is a respected show and we are proud to be involved with it.”

Pictured: Katsinas, Computer Generated Art, 2018, Andrew Honahnie (Hopi) Age 18, 2018 Student Art Show Participant

Posted in Opportunities, Spotlight | Tagged , , , |
Published: January 15th, 2019

FREE Mesa Arts Center Field Trip Opportunity

Thanks to a generous grant from the Pulliam Foundation, FREE school tickets are available to Adapting History written and performed by Dahlak Brathwaite.


In Adapting Historyartist Dahlak Brathwaite uses spoken word poetry & Hip Hop to narrate the sometimes tense, sometimes strained history of our nation. This musical chronicle shows that despite struggle, conflict, and misunderstanding, we can still learn, adapt, and be brilliantly creative.

Suggested grades: 7th – 12th

Book now, tickets won’t last long! To reserve seats, contact Tomas Stanton at [email protected] or call 480-644-2162.

*Tickets are limited, offer valid while supplies last.

Posted in Opportunities, Spotlight |
Published: January 15th, 2019

CLI Studios: Opportunity for FREE Online Dance Educator Resources

CLI Studios has an exciting new resource to share with dance and performing arts educators. CLI Studios is the industry leader in online continuing education for dance teachers, and they want to  provide your K-12 school and performing arts staff with even more educational resources this year.

When you join the CLI Studios Partnership Program, your school will work with over 100 of the industry’s top choreographers in every style of dance throughout the year. CLI Studios provides dance teachers with 24/7 access to online dance classes, tips and techniques for teachers, stretching and strength and conditioning exercises, lesson planning ideas, and more! The program also allows you to share these classes directly with your students in your classroom on a TV or Projector, allowing your students to learn hip-hop from Twitch from the Ellen Show, ballet from Tiler Peck of New York City Ballet, jazz from Broadway choreographers, and more.

And best of all, selected K-12 schools can participate with CLI Studios at NO COST to the schools due to a recent group of sponsors and donors that is supporting CLI Studios in this mission!

All K-12 schools and dance teachers are encouraged to apply through the link below. A member of the CLI Studios team will work with you one-on-one to help you get started!

Apply Today:

Posted in Opportunities, Spotlight |