Altadena Arts Magnet Turns Cancelled Musical into Opportunity

Altadena Arts Magnet’s spring musical performance of “The Little Mermaid,” would have opened already, were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic. But as luck would have it, thousands more viewers will now see a video parody of one of the musical’s featured numbers than would have ever fit into the school’s auditorium.

As spring musicals all over the nation were canceled as kids sat home, Altadena staff wanted to do something memorable to honor the cast’s hard work.

So now, in a YouTube video that has already garnered more than 2500 views, first-grader Monahmi Ruiz, sitting at a table at home in her pajamas, sings a re-written version of “Part of Your World,” as Ariel, the mermaid who wants to join the human world.

“The standout about this particular video is that this child is in first grade,” said Altadena Principal Benita Scheckel, herself a former professional singer, who re-wrote the lyrics for Ruiz.

“To have that kind of presence and command and charisma in front of the camera really blew me away,” said Scheckel. “And I was thinking about why that is, and I think it’s because of our arts magnet school and the way that kids are being educated.”

To add to the honor, the video will air Thursday, May 15 at 5 p.m. as part of the ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) Thursday newscast.

As Scheckel told Pasadena Now, the ASCA’s video storyteller, Michael Kelly reached out to her when he saw the video.

He said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so unique, and very different from the types of good news stories that we’ve been sharing weekly.’ Kelly then interviewed the lead, Monah, and used the interview in his Thursday story as well.

Scheckel credited Ruiz’ on-camera confidence to Altadena’s unique curriculum.

“We operate like a conservatory,” she said. “So instead of it being a regular elementary school where kids stay in their classroom all day and maybe the teacher will give them some recorder lessons, they are actually moving all throughout the day to take classes in dance and theater, visual arts, media arts and music. And all of these classes are taught by professional artists in the field.”

The pandemic has been a bittersweet mixture of tragedy and opportunity, and Altadena’s young performers will likely emerge stronger for the experience.

“I want to send a message to all my friends and students and colleagues out there,” said Scheckel as she introduced the video. “You’re not alone. We’re all together through music and the arts.”

The school’s performance of “The Little Mermaid” is now scheduled for Spring 2021.


Altadena Arts Magnet, 743 E. Calaveras Street Altadena, (626) 396-5650 or visit






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