Skip to main content


Students Learn California History to the Tune of Iconic Ballads
Posted 6/16/22

California Sing Program Students PerformingEducation in the classroom continues to evolve with the implementation of rapidly changing technology and access to resources like never before. Nowadays, the way our children learn reading and math is quite different from the methods practiced when most of us were in elementary school. For the students at Hawes Elementary, the rich history of California is taught to a different tune. 

Hawes’ California Sing music program was implemented by fourth-grade teacher Ms. Tonya Borns and former music teacher Ms. Mary McCraney* in an effort to creatively blend history with visual and performing arts. 

The cherished program has been an integral part of school culture since 2015 and continues to be one of the annual highlights. Focused primarily on California history and in alignment with the fourth-grade curriculum, fourth-grade students learn original songs written about significant historical events set to the tunes of iconic ballads. Songs include the history of Alcatraz set to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, an overview of California state history to the melody of “Hotel California”, and more recently, a new song focused on recent events called "We Don't Talk About 2020" set to the tune of "We Don't Talk About Bruno!" 

Watch the following 2-minute video that gives a sneak peek of the California Sing magic!

“It is amazing to see students' passion for history flourish as learning comes alive through music!” said Ms. Borns. “We are so fortunate to offer this incredible program to our students with the support of Mary’s commitment and love for our students.”

The music program has evolved over time and now also includes third and fifth-grade classes with songs respective to the grade-level history curriculum. The California Sing program culminates with performances in front of a schoolwide audience as well as families and the community where students showcase their songs and accompanying choreography. 

At Huntington Beach City School District (HBCSD), we appreciate the importance of arts education for all students. Arts education is necessary for our students to develop into well-rounded, lifelong learners who contribute to the prosperity and quality of life for local and global communities. Education in the arts develops engaged, creative, expressive, responsive, and artistically literate citizens.

*Ms. Mary McCraney retired from HBCSD and resides in Utah with her family. She continues to visit Huntington Beach to support the program and attend the California Sing performances.