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Special Programs

Garden Science

In 2009, Carthay Center contracted STAR Science to develop a pilot Garden Science curriculum that links California State Science Standards to hands-on, outdoor learning. This parent-funded program is a collaboration between Carthay Teachers, STAR Science Teachers and Master Gardeners. The garden program at Carthay continues to “grow” as its success supporting curriculum has proven to be a real asset. The garden has energized learning on campus. The students love science and have become environmental stewards, healthier eaters, and great observers of the natural world.



Carthay's Garden Science program is made possible in 2015-2016 by the generous support of Ned Brown , a Silver Level member of our Realtor Sponsor Program. 

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Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

Students can be officially identified for the GATE program as early as the end of 2nd grade, but typically identification occurs in 3rd grade. The student is referred to the GATE committee (which at Carthay consists of a teacher GATE coordinator, a parent, and the principal. Students whose abilities fall into one or more categories below may be considered for Gifted/Talented Programs.

  • Intellectual Ability
  • High Achievement 
  • Specific Academic Ability 
  • Creative Ability
  • Leadership Ability
  • Ability in the Performing or Visual Arts

State guidelines require that differentiated instruction for gifted/talented students build on the core curriculum and supplement it, therefore the gifted/talented “program” takes place within the student’s classroom. Differentiated instruction occurs when the core curriculum is modified and includes acceleration, pacing, levels of complexity, depth, and novelty with expectations for student production that are appropriate to individual learning interests, assessed needs, and abilities. Teachers receive professional development in educational programs that take into account each student's interests, talents and special abilities and to afford them opportunities for high-level thinking, creative expression, and self-understanding frequently at a learning pace beyond age or grade level as compared to that of their peers.


GATE at Carthay Center

In addition to differentiated instruction in the classroom, Carthay students in the GATE program attend special classes every Wednesday taught by instructors from STAR Education. The curriculum is project-based -  experiential learning designed to inspire the students; encourage their curiosity; and instill a life-long passion for learning. Within 24 weeks, students experience four different topics, each comprised of 6 classes:

  • Session 1: Filmmaking: Students work as part of a collaborative team to develop original film pieces..
  • Session 2: Making and Printing in 3D: 3‐D printing and the ability to rapid prototype has revolutionized the design and engineering world. Now

    an engineer or a designer has the ability to dream up a concept and test it out immediately. In this workshop, students learn to use kid‐friendly design tools to craft wearable objects, toys, game pieces, and more. Finally, working as a class, students will select class designs to be printed.

  • Session 3: Introduction to Anatomy. A structural survey of the human body, including the musculoskeletal, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive and genitourinary systems. Students look at the independent functions of all of the systems of the body and find out how they work together to keep us healthy and strong. Students dissect a sheep eye, sheep brain, sheep heart, owl pellet, and squid.
  • ​Session 4: Science of Superheroes. Ever wonder how superheroes are able to leap over large buildings in a single bound? Is it really possible for someone to stop a speeding train? Get answers to these questions and more, as students learn what makes Superheroes super! Harness the powers of magnetism and learn how to walk up walls in this innovative adventure in physics and biology. 

Physical Education Classes

Students participate in weekly physical education classes with professional coaches that teach developmentally appropriate skills to students and ways to exercise and maintain healthy habits. Children in younger grades play games that develop skills (while having fun and getting a workout) such as Sharks and Minnows, Frisbee, and Capture the Flag. Children in older grades learn rules and skills for games such as basketball, flag football, and soccer. 






Young Storytellers

Young Storytellers is a creative writing and self-esteem program for 5th grade students. Mentor-screenwriters spend an hour a week helping 10 students learn the basics of storytelling and create their own 5-7 page screenplay. The program culminates with the “Big Show” and entertainment professionals act out the student’s screenplay. The belief is simple: “Every child has something to say!”



Music, Theater, and Dance

For the 2017-2018 school year, LAUSD is providing a rotating set of specialists to teach Drama (in the Fall), and Music (in the Spring).


NHM BioSCAN: City and Nature collide!

From 2013-2015, Carthay was the only school in LAUSD to host a BioSCAN sampling station in Phase I of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) 's large-scale insect biodiversity survey across part of the Los Angeles Basin as part of a new research initiative: NHM Biodiversity Science: City and Nature (NHM BioSCAN) to discover and explore biodiversity in and around one of the world’s largest cities: Los Angeles. 

The BioSCAN project was featured in a KCRW story on April 21, 2014. Carthay wasn't mentioned on the radio, unfortunately, but you can see Carthay's name in the photos that accompany the story, along with some of the insects collected in Carthay's Garden - we're SIte #19. 

A new insect identified for the first time and discovered in Carthay's garden as part of the NHM BioSCAN project was named after Carthay!

Introducing Megaselia Carthayensis:

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Science fair and environmental exposition

In May, Carthay hosts a Science Fair and Environmental Exposition. Classes and students create science projects for the fair as well as a poster display. Concurrent with the Science Fair is an Environmental Exposition, with booths from groups throughout Los Angeles such as the Natural History Museum's BioSCAN project, Heal the Bay, the Theodore Payne Foundation, Grades of Green, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, LA Storm Water, STAR ECO Station, and many more. The competition is judged by Yvette d'Entermont, or SciBabe.

The Science Fair and Environmental Expo is organized by Carthay parent Jon Armstrong and is open to the public. The 2018 Fair & Expo will be held on Saturday, May 12 from 11am-3pm.







Aquaponics System - Learning about the cycle of life

A new addition to the Garden is an aquaponics system, funded through donations on Donors Choose. Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture, and provides a model for urban agriculture as a means to grow healthy and natural foods in an urban environment. The fish provide nutrients for plants in the form of their own excrement. The water in the fish tank is continuously pumped into a grow bed where the plants are located. The roots of plants act as a filtration system to clean the water. The clean water is then sent back into the fish tank. With the aquaponics system in place, students are able to study how fish and plants grow as well as to design and perform experiments to investigate and research a myriad of inquiries.

Writers' Workshop

Students participate in Writiers' Workshops to develop, write, illustrate, and celebrate their writing, following the researched-based methods developed by Lucy Caulkins.




Art Instruction

In addition to art taught in the classroom by their regular teacher, students take Visual Art classes with an Art Specialist from LAUSD once per week during the Spring Semester (2018). Each class will rotate through the program. 


See samples of Carthay student art at the Art page


Carthay's Visual Art Education program is made possible by the generous support of the Cunningham Group Real Estate Team, a Silver Level member of the PTA's Realtor Sponsor Program

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Read more about Visual Art at Carthay HERE.   



California Dance Institute

The CDI program gives children a basic understanding of the fundamentals of movement, rhythm and music in structured, energetic dance classes with live musical accompaniment for 20-25 sessions in each school. Classes are taught during school hours, as part of the academic curriculum, usually for students in 4th grade. Each class is taught by a professional lead teacher, assistant teacher and musician, each of whom has been trained in National Dance Institute’s methodology. CDI builds upon the school curriculum by collaborating with classroom teachers on skills-building, lesson topics and visual art projects. Schools also receive a staff development workshop for all their classroom teachers. Students perform in mid-point and culminating in-school performances for their friends, family and peers, and participate in a larger CDI performance with other school in the spring.