Twenty Cal Poly Pomona music industry students from a service-learning class worked with high school students from The School of Arts & Enterprise (SAE) in downtown Pomona to organize the annual SAE Music and Arts Festival.
The Center for Community Engagement helped form the partnership about two years ago when it reached out to Paul Treesuwan, a history teacher at the SAE, to find a project for a service learning class.
Treesuwan had been working with his students on the festival but was nervous about his lack of music expertise. Cal Poly Pomona students stepped in to help the SAE students compose music and lyrics, rehearse, and assist with the technical aspects of the show.
“It was one of those times when things just seemed to fall into place,” Treesuwan says. “Cal Poly Pomona students have been essential.”
Jennifer Amaya, a music professor at Cal Poly Pomona, teaches the service learning class that partners with the SAE. She had two goals for this quarter – to give her students chances to utilize more of their skills, and to take as much stress as possible off of the high school.
“There are no audio engineers at the SAE, so putting on a music festival, as you can imagine, is an enormous task,” Amaya says. “Our students want to be useful. They want to use their skills in real life ways, and this collaboration allows them to do that.”
Michael Malvini, one of the CPP students who worked with the high school, says the process of guiding and instructing others has been fulfilling. “It’s taken a lot of patience, empathy and understanding for both the students and the volunteers, but that has led to much progress and growth of the event.”
The show, which took place on May 17, featured 14 student bands performing live sets – rap, dance numbers, heavy metal, you name it. Each group was assigned a decade from the ’20s to the ’80s, and created a performance based on academic standards that fit the time period. The groups rehearsed under the guidance of the music students throughout spring quarter. “The first year we worked with Cal Poly Pomona, we found that our students worked much harder to impress these college students than they would for their teachers,” Treesuwan says.
Stephanie Mejia, an SAE student and festival production director, says the volunteers made a big difference, and the project served as a window into life after high school.
“They have been very involved in the entire process,” Mejia says. “They helped us, whether with dance moves, lyrics, or even chatting with us about their major and what college is like.”
Amaya sees a noticeable difference in her students after they’ve spent the quarter volunteering.
“They come out of this experience much more confident than when they head in, in terms of learning their own strengths and discovering what they do know about music and life. There are so many positive outcomes to this, I can’t list them all.”