Remote Learning’s Impact on Venice High’s Arts & Entertainment


When COVID-19 shut down the schools of California, the bright lights of arts programs at Venice High were shut down along with it.

But now the lights are back on and shining brightly. 

Here’s what you can expect for Venice High’s theater, music, and fine arts programs this year.



For the new school year, theater teacher Bianca Andrews said that the drama department plans on performing a new play in November or December. 

Andrews will be directing George S. Kaufman’s You Can’t Take It With You, a family drama taking place in the 1930s about the Sycamore family and their daughter’s marriage to the wealthy Tony Kirby. 

Most plays and musicals are meant to be experienced live and on stage. However, due to the COVID-19 restrictions and rules, Andrews will be recording the production and making sure all can watch it no matter the circumstances. 

The play itself will be performed live somewhere else due to COVID-19—whether the actors will be in masks the whole while is still up in the air and the date will be decided at a later time.

I hope to help students shine and give them a place to let loose and express their own beautiful, authentic selves,” Andrews said. 

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Traci Thrasher retired after her final performance with the drama department, leaving a new teacher to fill her place. 

Andrews, who replaced Thrasher, was able to make her first year memorable despite the setbacks of remote learning. Now, she has the opportunity to work on a play taking place on an actual stage. 

Sophomore Jaylen Germani said she enjoyed the experience in Theater last year.The fact she could not only be part of her first play, but could also make friends, made it very enjoyable. 

“Ms. Andrews was able to give us the opportunity to experience art,” Germani said. “We were also able to make friends.” 

Senior Remy Balembois has been enjoying this year’s theater program.

“Creating scenes helps to get outside the confinement we felt during the pandemic,” he said.  



This year, the music program at Venice is preparing to return to competitions and give students more special opportunities.  

Before the pandemic, the marching band was working towards becoming a more competitive band, according to music teacher David Lee, who oversees the band and other music programs at Venice High. Now, the group is still working towards that goal. 

 “We are still not approved for competitions or field trips yet, but we’re working on it,” he said. “We are planning on doing an LAUSD showcase at the end of the semester. We’re working on trying to get out there and compete.”

Teaching was “difficult” last year, Lee said.

“I feel like I didn’t connect with as many students because in person you could, you know, have banter, and make those connections,” he said. 

Music teacher Wendy Sarnoff, who teaches keyboard, guitar, and choir, also took 16 students from Venice High to go and participate in Honor Choir Auditions for Southern California Vocal Association last month. 

Senior Chaya Forman, a member of Venice Allegros for three years, auditioned and said that it is completely different singing in a mask.  

“Your breath control needs to work completely differently,” she said. “I think it definitely hindered my performance.” 

Not as many other people from other schools came to audition compared to past years. Four other LAUSD students went for Honor Choir auditions, Sarnoff said. Venice sent more students than all other LAUSD schools combined.

Sarnoff takes pride in aiding young musicians in achieving their musical goals.

“It’s important what the students choose to achieve,” Sarnoff said. “It’s important how the students challenge themselves. And I’m here to support that. I’m here, hopefully, to avail students of pathways where they can become the artists that they want to be.”


Fine arts

Art classes this year are very different from last year, now back to the basic schedule with opportunities to grow and learn from our experiences and lessons. Our teachers can guide their students once more.

Finally in person, art teacher Christopher Wright can immerse himself in the subject once more and guide his students to the fullest extent. Classes will continue like they did before the pandemic

Long before the pandemic and the construction of the new arts building, Venice offered many types of arts: photography, ceramics, and even woodshop. Wright was already at Venice High then and saw when they were cut shortly after Proposition 13. 

Wright said the school had planned on bringing some classes back due an increase of budget. However the funding was pulled due to unforeseen circumstances, and the subjects were dropped. 

“I wish we can offer the old classes again,” Wright said. “We used to have photography and painting. With the space we can offer more, though.” 

Last year was hard for Wright, as he couldn’t be one-on-one with his Zoom classes, and as such, he says he couldn’t guide them like he’s done in the past.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “A lot of my teaching is direct instruction and feedback—that’s not very possible with Zoom. It was very inconvenient, very difficult.” 

Senior Emily Catalan, an art student, said that she is happy to be back. 

“While the trip to the school is long, it’s worth it in the end,” she said. “The school offers things to not only our students but to the community as well.” 

After last school year, students and teachers now can look to a brighter future—one that features pens, paper, and the smell of ink in person.