Cornerstone Theater Company Presents 'TALK IT OUT' Tonight

Cornerstone Theater Company Presents 'TALK IT OUT' Tonight

Cornerstone Theater Company and The California Endowment, Building Healthy Communities of the Eastern Coachella Valley, in collaboration with the Schools Action Team, will present a special event celebrating the achievements of local residents working for positive change in the area's schools, neighborhoods and preventive health care efforts tonight, December 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm in Veterans Park, 1515 Sixth Street, Coachella, CA. The event is free and open to the public.

Talk it Out: A Celebration and Conversation About Change in Our Community will feature readings of two original plays: Look Forward by Peter Howard and Kashunpicua (Caminar con Respeto) by Jeanette Godoy, as well as opportunities for facilitated discussion with the audience. The plays are based on real stories of local residents who are invested in public health and excellence in public education. In a series of workshops, story circles and interviews over the past several months, community members have shared their experiences and perspectives on topics related to community health, safety and student achievement in the Eastern Coachella Valley. They have shared success stories, challenges and questions. What works best in supporting this community's students in achieving their educational goals, minimizing barriers to parental engagement and creating healthy, positive school climates? What is the possible role of Restorative Justice practices, healing circles, etc. in supporting this success? Community stories have inspired two original short play scripts that will be presented in a staged reading format "under the stars" in Veterans Park, with a cast composed of local students, educators and community advocates.

Talk it Out is an ongoing program that creates original theater with communities across California. The program strives to raise awareness about the overuse of harsh school discipline on a local and statewide scale, offer alternatives to these practices and celebrate the achievements of local residents who are creating change. Through community-engaged theater performances, a dialogue opens among parents, teachers, counselors, advocates, nonprofits and policy makers about the root cause of school misconduct and the need for better support systems, more accessible resources and school environments that create a place for healing instead of punishment.

This program is supported by The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation that seeks to address the health consequences from the overuse of suspension and expulsion in our schools.

"California schools are suspending and expelling students at alarming rates, removing kids for offenses that used to mean a trip to the principal's office or a talk with a school counselor. During the 2009-10 academic year, California schools issued 778,000 suspension and expulsion orders, despite research showing no relation between harsh discipline policies and school safety, academic achievement or graduation rates," said Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment. "A growing number of California youth, community and school leaders are joining together to call for common-sense approaches to school discipline that help kids learn from their mistakes while keeping them in school and on track for future success."

The Talk it Out: A Celebration and Conversation About Change in Our Community performance and discussion will take place on Wednesday, December 10 at 5:30pm at Veterans Park in Coachella. Veterans Park is located at 1515 Sixth Street in Coachella, CA. Tickets are free, but seating is limited. There will be a pre-show reception and live music featuring Quetzal and youth musicians. To reserve tickets please call 1-888-802-6607.

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