This chorus class always starts the day with vocal warm ups. It’s an important exercise and chorus is one of student Kristen Duran’s favorite classes at Arcadia High School.

Music director Dr. Stephen Pu treats every rehearsal like a mini recital.  

“They improve as singers during this time and then when they're singing their repertoire, that's when they can apply the technique they’ve practiced,” says Pu.

Kristen is now a senior and hopes to attend the University of California San Diego. She chose to take chorus as a way to build self confidence.

“I'm in this class because I love to perform,” says Kristen. “And I love to make others feel the way that I feel.”

Arts education does come at a price, but when you have a performing arts center, your holiday show better be good. Conductor Carlo Ponti, Jr. is Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Virtuosi Orchestra and he’s been helping Arcadia with their music program.

“Music education benefits students in various ways obviously and ways such as commitment, perseverance, communication and perhaps most importantly in areas to strengthen their academic achievement such as mathematics and reading as well,” says Ponti, Jr.  

Arts budgets for schools across the country have been cut, including the LAUSD where the district's $31 million budget is half what it was in 2008. So Carlo is working to extend his program to more schools.

“Singing is a very important part of music making because anybody can really sing,” explains Ponti, Jr. “You don't need to play an instrument.”

Even with instruments, schools often rely on arts organizations to fill in the gaps.

"It does create us to step out of our comfort zones and give us great experiences," says Kristen

Carlo is happy to help, but until budgets prioritize arts, students like Kristen may not get the education they deserve.