Right before the school year ended in May, Arcadia High’s Mount Olympus – the outdoor area on campus – was full of music and dance as students and the community enjoyed the inaugural Arcadia Festival.
After attending the visual arts department’s Agora Festival this spring, several of instructor Richard Maxwell’s students asked if they could take their end-of-the-year event to the next level by including the dance, theater and film clubs.
“It just grew out of that. The idea was not to make a duplicate or competing event with what the visual arts folks do; it was more about having a bigger CMAS show that turned into an end-of-year celebration,” Maxwell said.
The CMAS (Contemporary Music and Sound) program performs at least one show weekly during the school year. Maxwell explained that they’re usually live-streamed from AHS’s soundstage on Fridays.
“We’ve been going at this pace for well over two years, making us – most likely – the most active high school music program in the country. I don’t say this to brag, but to demonstrate that we’re trying to provide opportunities for the students, and it seems to be working out pretty well,” he said.
The original group of students reached out to StuGo (student government) to gauge interest in sponsoring the event. From there, StuGo and CMAS hired food trucks, and on May 19, the students capped off a successful year with their fellow performers.
The theater department performed a series of one-act plays in between sets, and guests also enjoyed a screening of a new film from the AHS film program. The dance squads performed a few numbers in between songs, as well.
“I have to say that particular combination – CMAS and dance – was awesome. It started as a fairly informal part of the evening but quickly turned into this really beautiful moment where all the kids were working and performing together and having a great time. To be honest, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said that one of the most exciting parts of the event was watching the collaborative elements between musicians and performers that came into focus as the show went on.
“It worked because the students made it happen. I just got to be there and witness it. Which makes this a cool gig for me,” he laughed.
The film department premiered the second installation of a 30-minute movie called The Two Dollar Dilemma. The film centers around a gentleman who finds a two-dollar bill and discovers that it’s worth $10,000. He eventually loses it and movie-goers watched as the main character tries to get it back.
“The film is a satirical look at cryptocurrency,” Director Luis Peralta said. “It was so well-received, there were at least 75 people packed into the classroom!”
Maxwell explained that a good-sized mixture of students and families came out to support. The CMAS program is already considering the possibility of putting together a similar event when school resumes.
“We’ve always been pretty lucky to be well supported by the community. And with the collaborations that happened, there’s potential for more events. We’re looking forward to working more with the visual arts program in the future – which is very exciting!” Maxwell said.