Superintendent Michelle King mingles with students at the recent West Side Serenade.

Showcasing their abundant talents, as well as L.A. Unified’s commitment to the arts, nearly 1,000 students from two dozen schools sang, danced and played musical instruments during the inaugural West Side Serenade, a recent community event hosted by Local District West.

Hundreds of spectators brought blankets and lawn chairs to the front lawn of Venice High School, where clear skies and an ocean breeze provided the perfect backdrop to the scores of student performances taking place on the outdoor stage.

“What I love the best is just seeing all the pride and joy that comes from the kids and from their hearts when they get to perform,”  said School Board President Steve Zimmer, whose district includes the Westside community. “It’s like they are giving a little piece of themselves.”

Local District West Superintendent Cheryl Hildreth, left, and her colleagues entertain the Serenade crowd.

In recent years, L.A. Unified has made huge efforts to emphasize and cultivate more pathways for arts education and events like the West Side Serenade are a prolific example.

“We are here to celebrate the arts,” Local District West Superintendent Cheryl Hildreth said. “This is an area we’ve decided to put more of a focus on and this is a showcase to celebrate that talent and show parents around the district what we have in our schools, in L.A. Unified and in Local District West.”

Musicians of every age added their talent to the Serenade experience.

The schools that performed came from a 55-mile radius of the Los Angeles area including  54th Street, Hancock Park, Hillcrest, Kingsley, La Salle, Los Angeles, Mar Vista Elementary, Palms, Raymond, Roscomare, Rosewood, Short, Stoner,  Vine, Walgrove, and Windsor Hills Elementary schools; Audubon, Le Conte, Marina del Rey, Pio Pico, Mark Twain and Wright Middle schools; and Crenshaw and Venice High schools.

The student-performers not only entertained, but they also served as a testament to the successful performing arts pathways that are being cultivated by the district, as well as displaying skills that will lead to success in college, career choice and civic life.

Seeing out students perform helps Superintendent Hildreth remember the importance of the arts in her life as a student in L.A. Unified.

“The arts are what saved me,” she said. “I loved dance. Once I was able to dance at school, and was able to show that side of me, it not only helped me focus on academics, but it also connected me with people that had the same passion I did.”