More than 1,000 parents, students, teachers and administrators turned out Saturday for the inaugural Northwest Fest 2016, a bonanza showcasing arts and academic programs offered at dozens of San Fernando Valley schools. With open enrollment beginning May 2, allowing kids to sign up for schools outside of their neighborhood, the daylong event at Reseda High School was designed to make it easier for families to make a choice.

Traditional campuses, affiliated charters, magnets and pilot schools set up booths, where they touted the programs that allow students to make their education relevant to their lives by personalizing their areas of study. The festival’s theme – “Oh, the places you’ll go!” – underscored the multitude of opportunities available to students.

The event was organized by Vivian Ekchian, the superintendent of Local District Northwest. School Board President Steve ZImmer and Members Mónica Ratliff and Scott Schmerelson, who share representation of area, were among the who applauded student performances, praised kids’ artwork and cheered as youngsters participated in activities sponsored by the District’s Beyond the Bell Branch.

“Northwest rocks!,” Superintendent Michelle King cried, opening the event under an arch of purple and white balloons. “When I walked onto the campus of Reseda High School, I said, ‘This is truly amazing. This is like the L.A. County Fair.’

“This is an opportunity to showcase all the schools in the Northwest,” King said, adding, “You are going to be wowed!”

Arts, enrichment and after-school programs offered at the more than 60 schools in Local District Northwest were showcased during the inaugural Northwest Fest. Local District Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King, School Board Member Mónica Ratliff and Beyond the Bell Director Alvaro Cortes were on hand to open the day-long event. (Photos by Ryan Togioka/Beyond the Bell)