The Irvine Company on Tuesday presented IUSD with the seventh installment of its pledge of more than $21 million over 10 years for enriched curriculum in art, science and music, marking the occasion with a reception, as well as student music performances and science demonstrations.
Robin Leftwich, vice president of community affairs for the Irvine Company, delivered the latest check for $2.15 million at the Board of Education’s first meeting of 2013, pushing the company’s total contribution past $14 million with more checks to come. Board President Gavin Huntley-Fenner expressed the district’s gratitude for the generous donation, which has sustained critical educational opportunities in Irvine.
“The art, science and music programs are why people come here,” he said.
Established in 2006, the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund pays for specialists to work in IUSD’s fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms. Students receive two 60-minute science lessons per week, two 40-minute music lessons per week and six hour-long art lessons per year, all taught by highly qualified instructors.
The program has been extremely popular in IUSD, enabling schools to preserve hands-on courses that might have otherwise been lost to budget cuts.
Leftwich said grades four through six represent “a formative time for our children as they prepare to go to middle school,” and she called the results of recent assessments “phenomenal,” noting that Irvine students are consistently outperforming their peers on science standards tests and other key indicators.
And if you were looking for anecdotal evidence of students excelling in art, music and science, there was plenty on display Tuesday night.
The evening began with the pitch-perfect sounds of the Northwood High School String Quartet, which performed during a brief reception attended by parents, students, staff and community members. Later on, Leftwich personally addressed the board during a presentation that offered further proof of the value of the Irvine Company’s donation.
Leftwich pointed out the student artwork that adorned the boardroom and the rest of the District Office and asked the young artists in attendance to stand and be recognized. She then introduced fourth-grade cellist Kevin Song of Santiago Hills Elementary School, who received a standing ovation after gracefully performing “Hungarian Rhapsody” by David Popper. Song, a student of music specialist Dianna Gray, was accompanied by Jill Brenner from Irvine High School.
Finally, fifth-graders at College Park Elementary School were invited up to conduct science demonstrations on air pressure with the help of science specialist Jessica Lingenfelter. The audience, including Leftwich, was impressed.
“It’s pretty clear that none of us are smarter than a fifth-grader,” she said.