New Arts & Technology Public Charter School Petitions Formation Under Morongo Unified

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JOSHUA TREE — Building on its unprecedented success of the Hi-Desert Arts Academy program, leadership from the Hi-Desert Cultural Center and the educational and financial communities are petitioning Morongo Unified School District to start a new public charter school for students grades 4-12 that offers a rigorous arts, technology, and vocational curriculum.  The proposed Joshua Tree Arts & Technology Academy (JTATA) encourages interested parents to learn more about the new charter school at and to read and sign the charter school petition at the Hi-Desert Cultural Center in Joshua Tree before February 29.

For those students desiring to focus their education in an art or related vocational field, JTATA allows them to excel in their core academics through state-of-the-art enhanced, teacher-guided independent study, which enables them to allocate more time toward learning their chosen focus or other areas of academic and personal growth.  For other students who seek an academic post-secondary education, the infusion of arts and technology into their core academics will create more well-rounded, better educated, and higher-performing students.

The new school will offer exceptional individual, small and large group California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards aligned education in the following areas of study: music performance and composition; drama and musical theater; dance and martial arts; 2D and 3D visual arts; fashion and fabric arts; audio and production engineering; robotics, 3D modeling and printing; website design and TV/radio/internet broadcasting; metal/woodworking and architectural design, and more.  Recognizing that many of its students will be career and four-year higher education bound, JTATA’s core academics will offer Common Core, A-G compliant, and Advanced Placement® (AP) curriculum, which has largely been absent from other charter school offerings in the area.

JTATA’s lead petitioning group includes long-time credentialed teachers and student advocates Steve Gilliam and Doris Lawless; past school administrator/dean, department chair, and educator from the acclaimed Idyllwild Arts Academy, and top-rated music teacher and performer, Nelms McKelvain; financial consultant, MBA, past credit union president, current board member and past chair of the audit and oversight committees, and treasurer for multiple non-profit entities, James Lawless; and acclaimed composer, musician, educator, film/theater vocational employer, non-profit president, and distance learning/education-technology creator, Jarrod Radnich.

This new school will truly be a blend of the best of home school and the best of public school. Being a born native of Joshua Tree, this is exactly the type of educational environment I personally would have dreamed to have had—and one that a great many in our communities strongly want to have available for their children.Jarrod Radnich, JTATA Petitioner and Hi-Desert Cultural Center President

For more information or to show your support, visit, send an email to, or stop by the Hi-Desert Cultural Center at 61231 Hwy 62 in downtown Joshua Tree between 1pm and 6:30pm weekdays.


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