Students from 29 LA Unified School District (LAUSD) high schools converged upon the back lot of Paramount Pictures for a talent contest of epic proportions for Beyond the Bell's "Lights. Camera. Take Action!" on Saturday, May 21. Three stages were set up against the back drop of Paramount's New York City facades as participants competed for the title of best singer, dancer, musician, visual artist, and spoken word performer in the district.
America's Got Talent host Nick Cannon emceed the event, encouraging the students and announcing special live performances. American Idol 4th place finisher and former LAUSD student, Allison Iraheta, also hit the red carpet at the event. Iraheta beamed, saying, "it's really cool that all these students are here doing what I wanted to do at that age and they have the opportunity to go to the after school programs and do this." She added, "It's always great to be surrounded by so much talent." Another big highlight of the day was a 2,000 person Flash Mob, in which students and even America's Best Dance Crew winners Poerotics participated.
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The event, in which winners took home college scholarships, was part of the Beyond the Bell's Take Action Leadership Campaign, which is now in its fourth year. The campaign promotes before and after school programs which aim to reduce violence, increase attendance, improve grades, and prepare students for college.
Alvaro Cortes, Assistant Superintendent of LAUSD, said that the campaign gets students to "understand they are part of a bigger picture--they are not only students at their specific high school. They realize that there are more similarities than differences with their peers throughout the city." He continued, "these students develop into leaders in their schools and communities. They come from outside the traditional leadership groups [not in student council, etc.]," adding that "they learn how to motivate themselves and then others to make a difference in their school and personal lives."
Interested in getting involved? To learn more about how to help local high schools and get involved in Beyond the Bell programs, click here.