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Leap Arts holds Sandcastle Classic at Ocean Beach

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:51:00
5 / 5 (2 Votes)
Article by:
Paul Kenyon Krantz
Banner of annual sandcastle building contest by www.leaparts.org.
Leap Arts in Education is hosting its 34th annual Sandcastle Classic fundraiser. It happens to be Northern California’s largest sandcastle competition. It will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Ocean Beach near Balboa Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Thousands of spectators are expected to attend Leap’s Sandcastle Classic, including representatives from over 25 schools and more than 300 sponsors and advertisers. Beyond awe-struck sandcastle gazing, the event will also include food trucks, a raffle, and live musical performances by “MAD NOISE” and “The Pocket.”

If you are not familiar with Leap, you can find out more on its website www.leaparts.org, where it is shown that “Leap's mission is to provide high-quality arts education programs that help students build skills to achieve their fullest potential.”

Leap places professional artists in K–5th grade classrooms in order to provide hands-on instruction in the arts for elementary students. Leap is working with more than 6,000 students from 25 elementary schools within the Bay Area.

Leap was founded in 1979, largely in response to the passing of California Proposition 13, which dramatically reduced state funding for education and as a consequence practically eliminated teaching of the arts from public elementary schools. The lack of funding and resources for art education has continued to be an issue in public schools, despite mounting evidence that participation in the arts is vital to a well-rounded education.
  
It has been found in numerous studies that students who are given opportunities in the arts tend to perform better academically and socially, and these benefits can be lifelong. In his introduction to a report titled, “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth,” Rocco Landesman stated that “Children and teenagers who participated in arts education programs have shown more positive academic and social outcomes in comparison to students who did not participate in those programs.”

According to Leap, “Studies also show that the arts benefit all students equally, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. In a national sample of 25,000 students, those with high levels of arts-learning experiences earned higher grades and performed better on standardized tests than those with little or no involvement in the arts.”
 
“Giving all kids a real shot at a quality education is what inspires me to do this work every day,” said Executive Director of Leap Arts Jill Dineen. “The year I started kindergarten is the same year that the state of California cut arts funding. As a student who was drawn to the performing arts, I really needed that creative vehicle to express myself, build confidence, and expand my universe.”

Dineen has since built her career around working with children and families in need, and within the public schools. As the executive director of Leap, Dineen now gets to put it all together, and to actively work to support arts education opportunities for youths at underprivileged elementary schools all over the Bay Area.

The Sandcastle Classic is Leap’s largest fundraising event. The goal for 2016 is to raise $300,000. That is roughly one-third of the nonprofit’s entire operating budget for the 2016-2017 school year. All funds raised by the Sandcastle Classic go directly toward maintaining Leap’s programs.

This specifically includes paying the contract fees for Leap Arts educators who will be bringing art classes to schools, as well as subsidizing the cost of Leap for schools who cannot afford Leap’s programming within their own budget constraints.

About 30 teams will be competing in the 2016 Sandcastle Classic. Teams are composed of a mix of elementary students along with professional engineers, architects, artists and other adult volunteers. A few of these teams have already been established. Among these are the Sandy Warhols contest team — partnering with Dianne Feinstein Elementary and others — and the ArtiSANDS contest team — partnering with Rosa Parks Elementary.
  
If designing and building an elaborate sandcastle with youthful teams sounds like an easy task, think again. As the Sandcastle Classic has evolved, so has the level of intensity with which the teams take on their castle projects. The whole process — from brainstorming, to designing, to practicing building skills, to construction — stretches out through weeks, and the event’s coordinators have ensured that both the young and the adults are involved in every stage throughout.

The adult professionals first meet with the students on their team to brainstorm ideas for what kind of Sandcastle sculpture they would like to build. This year’s theme is “Makers and Movers,” so one may expect to see sandcastle sculptures featuring authors, inventors, political leaders, and revolutionaries, as well as machines and technology that has furthered humanity’s cultural evolution.

After a team has selected its subject, the young artists and professionals are both encouraged to draw up blueprints and building plans, or to make models of the sculpture to be created in sand. They also attend workshops leading up to the event, where they learn about topics such as the ideal water/sand ratio for sculpting, and sandcastle sculptor skills training.
Leap is still looking for volunteers and sponsors to get involved with the 2016 competition. If you are interested, check out www.leaparts.org, or send an email to events@leaparts.org for more information.

 
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