California School of the Arts

The Start Of Something New: A Resolved Tension Between Two Different Schools

After 30 years, Orange County School of Arts (OCSA) finally established another satellite charter high school called California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley (CSArts-SGV), located in the city of Duarte. Modeled after OCSA’s award-winning curriculum which provided pre-professional arts conservatory training, the new school attracted students from all over Southern California. As a district with declining student enrollment, Duarte Unified School District (DUSD) entered the partnership by transferring the ownership of Northview Intermediate over to CSArts High School. In exchange, the entering CSArts 7th and 8th grade students would be enrolled at Duarte schools. To ease the transition, the Duarte 7th grade students at the time were permitted to stay for one more year at Northview Intermediate, but in trailers off the main CSArts High School campus along with the 8th graders of CSArts. Northview Intermediate was renamed Northview 8th grade Village.

It’s been a whole year since CSArts, a charter high school first moved into Duarte. For us as middle schoolers who went to school alongside Northview Intermediate School students, we are now celebrating our last days together as Northview Villagers.

I’m going to miss our trailer village when it gets demolished this summer. As rising freshmen, we will be promoting to CSArts next year, while others will be attending Duarte High School. Whatever the case may be, we eighth graders at the Northview Village had an eventful thrill ride of a year, full of long and lasting memories.

Jasmine Curry, an eighth grader in the musical conservatory, said, “I’ve seen a lot of improvements in people. I’ve seen a lot of people who at the start of the year were not confident in themselves, like myself but as they progressed through the year, they really got around their fears.”

And it’s true! Jasmine further explained that she’s heard singers sing louder and artists drawing more.

From a teacher’s perspective, Danny Hata, the science teacher at Northview, especially “liked the variety of students.”

I, myself, had an inspiring and very productive year as I got the chance to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. Never have I ever written so many poems, and writing a musical was definitely something I’ve never even dreamed of doing. Now, I can’t wait to write another.  

However, this year was anything but conflict free. Students and teachers alike all had a rocky beginning.

As Mr. Hata wisely put it: “What happened, had to happen.”

A lot of bitter feelings toward the CSArts and Northview collaboration began even before school started. For CSArts students, the transfer was a risk. I personally had to give up many of my passions from my old school. It was a very difficult decision to leave my old friends and my cello program behind to pursue writing. I hoped the risk would be worth it. In comparison, the original Northview students had completely different feelings, and it was that of having to move. Most of them felt angry for “we were stealing their campus.”

Kylie Lim, an original Northview student, said that before school started, she was sad because she knew she “wouldn’t be able to graduate in the real Northview Building.”

As for Mr. Hata, some troubles he experienced were that of moving to an entirely different classroom. He said he never unpacked some boxes because he knew that after Northview was no longer a school, he’d have to move again.

Kylie continued that before school started, “I expected a split between the CSArts students and Northview… and I was right.”

The following first weeks of school were quite tense. As Kylie predicted, we were like oil and water. Although we shared classes, CSArts and Northview students would hardly talk to each other. I clearly remember seeing a CSArts student, hungry to make new friends, ask if an original Northview student were part of the CSArts program. When the Northview student said “no”, the two just walked away as if they had never met.

As a CSArts student, Jasmine believed it was because CSArts students, “were thrown into an environment they were not familiar with.”

Mr. Hata further stated that it was because of the “new location, new people, different cultural differences…”

Whatever the reason, our relationship got worse. It started first as small whispers and rumors.

Jasmine explained, “Yeah. They called us privileged and rich.”

Before we knew it, there were loud, snide comments during class and then full-blown arguments arose. It finally became too much when a couple of original Northview students walked onto the CSArts campus and flipped the logo off. As payback, some CSArts students created a social media account where they’d post rude comments about Northview.

Jasmine concludes, “It wasn’t one side’s fault. It was the Northview side’s fault and the CSArts side’s fault.”

Never have I ever experienced such a rivalry. I felt so intimidated that I wondered if conservatory was worth the trouble of staying. However, just as soon as these incidents happened, we received an apology of sorts from a couple of original Northview students. They were bookmarks with an inspiring and hopeful quote on them that were passed out during our zero period classes (which only CSArts students had to take).

Mine, personally, was a quote from Aristotle which read, “The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.” I was quite shocked since I was prideful back then. I had believed that we were better than them so we’d be the one to apologize first. At that moment, I realized I’d been thinking about it all wrong.

Days, weeks, and months passed. We started to mix together, however slowly. We began to talk to one another, worked on projects together, went on field trips as a class, and some of us even became friends.

Now, Kylie and I say “hi” as we walk past each other in the hallway, and we talk together during PE.

As the year comes to a close, we can all agree that we’ve resolved our differences.

Mr. Hata said, “I think all the students generally get along now.”

Jasmine agrees, although she believes “there’s still tension.”

I can see that, but to me, it’s now more of an awkward tension. We’ve been through a lot together, the whole eighth grade, and it’s been a learning experience for all of us. I’ve never been so excited to go to CSArts High School next fall.

As Kylie put it, “It’s all good.”