Arts in the schools? You bet.

Although we pride ourselves on academic rigor and performance, the arts offerings in the Desert Sands Unified School District — DSUSD — provide for a well-rounded education. If you attended the Children’s Art and Music Festival (CAMFest) early this month, you can certainly attest that the arts are alive and well in Desert Sands schools.

Twenty-five Desert Sands Unified School District schools participated in the Second Annual CAMFest sponsored by the Desert Sands Educational Foundation along with partner the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Last year’s event featured DSUSD school and student artwork along with three stages for musical performances. A fourth stage was the setting for a number of professional musicians who donated their time and talent to help raise money to enhance the district’s support of the arts.

This year, an additional stage was added for theater performances and an area to showcase dance troupes from the schools. Plans are already underway for next year’s event with the inclusion of film in a special preview room.

From 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., a full slate of performers could be found on all stages. Choirs, bands, musicals, dramas, small dance troupes, and many-member dance teams shared their talent. A scene from Little Women performed by La Quinta High School to Shadow Hills High’s rendition of The Gift of the Magi to John Glenn Middle School students cavorting around the stage in their production of Elf, attendees had a glimpse into the acting talents of our students. Carrillo Ranch Elementary School performed ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Frosty the Snowman while the Palm Desert Charter Middle School Performing Panthers showcased their pantomime skills while the Indio High School Circle Theatre Company presented a musical showcase.

The dance area wasn’t big enough to hold the many La Quinta High School members of Tough Guys and Gals, especially when audience members joined in the fun. Dancers came from Palm Desert and Shadow Hills high schools, too. There were younger dance troupes from Carrillo Ranch Elementary and John Glenn Middle School. Guest performers from Xavier College Prep also joined in the fun.

Then there were the bands from Indio, Colonel Mitchell Paige, Palm Desert Charter, Desert Ridge, La Quinta, Thomas Jefferson, and John Glenn middle schools…that’s every middle school in DSUSD. From concert bands to jazz bands to mariachi, there was music for everyone. Elementary school musicians came from James Carter and Gerald Ford and La Quinta, Shadow Hills, Palm Desert, and Indio high schools sent their award-winning bands.


Holiday music courtesy of the Indio High School Choir

Choirs and vocal ensembles came from James Carter, Gerald Ford, Harry Truman, Benjamin Franklin, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, George Washington Charter, Carrillo Ranch elementary schools. Middle school vocalists came from John Glenn, Indio, Colonel Mitchell Paige, Palm Desert Charter, and Desert Ridge. The older students participated from La Quinta, Shadow Hills, Palm Desert, and Indio high schools.  Desert Sands students and friends who participate in the Academy of Musical Performance (AMP) were also on hand.

A large grassy area showcased student artwork from across the district and a DSUSD school bus was decorated with award-winning posters and 30 umbrellas painted to portray water shortage issues around the world.


Featured artist Dailee Perez

The event showcased DSUSD students in the arts and they were supported by activities including Santa and roaming characters, face painting, bracelet making, and so much more. Food vendors provided the sustenance needed to spend the day walking from stage to stage and area to area. For a complete list of the supporters of this day devoted to arts in our schools, visit

No arts in the schools? Come see for yourself at next year’s CAMFest.


Photo caption for lead photo: The cast from Elf, students from John Glenn Middle School, sing and dance their way across the stage.

Image Sources

  • CAMFest: DSUSD