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Natomas charter school

Natomas Charter School developed the One Voice Project over fifteen years ago in partnership with the Sungurbey Academy in Nidge, Turkey with the lofty goal of promoting world peace through the arts - what resulted is a project that continues to transform the lives of students in multiple countries.  


The One Voice Project is based on two premises:


1)     We believe that young people can transform the world into a place of peaceful coexistence and better environmental stewardship.
2)     We believe the performing and fine arts can transcend cultural and language barriers and serve as a vehicle to build connections by expressing what is common among all of us as humans

About Natomas Charter School


The One Voice Project has its roots in a trip to Turkey by Dr. Ting Sun, co-founder and Educational Programs Director of Natomas Charter School in Sacramento, California. In 2008, she was invited to be part of a group of North American educators and business people to tour Turkey. The trip was sponsored by Bakkiad, a group of Turkish educators and business owners whose goal is to open dialogue between the Middle East and the West. The trip was a life changing experience for Dr. Sun, and she soon embarked upon a quest to share the experience with fellow teachers from Natomas Charter School in Sacramento, California.



In the Spring of 2009, Dr. Ting Sun along with N.C.S. Co-founder Mr. Charlie Leo and eight teachers from N.C.S. returned to Turkey to develop the relationship between N.C.S. and the Sungerbey Academy in Nigde. Prior to leaving N.C.S. the project team made a video in which they asked current N.C.S. student questions to get at the values they held. Some questions included: What gives you hope? What do you want a Middle East Teenager to know about American teenagers? What are your goals in life? The N.C.S. team then took this video to Nidge, played it for Sungerbey students and then filmed their response to the video and asked them the same questions.

Upon their return from Turkey the N.C.S. team shared their trip experiences and the video of the Sungerbey students with 150 N.C.S. students. The N.C.S. students and staff watched the original N.C.S. video and the Sungerbey responses and came up with 8 values that were shared by both sets of students. These values were:

  • Family

  • Faith

  • Education

  • Growth

  • Understanding

  • Connecting with Others

  • Helping Others

  • Peace

These values became the founding and guiding values for the design of the One Voice Production which was performed in Sacramento in Spring of 2010 and Turkey in Spring of 2011.

In the spring, eight students from the Sungurbey Academy visited Natomas Charter School. Along with a large cast from N.C.S., the students brought the One Voice production to life at the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center. For more information (and pictures) on the One Voice production, click the circular picture to the right of the One Voice Turkey title.


In April, a contingent of students from N.C.S. traveled to Nigde, Turkey, where they acted as Artistic Ambassadors. The students led workshops at Sungurbey Academy, traveled throughout the country, and helped reprise the One Voice production for audiences in Nigde.

NCS at The Temple of Heaven in Beijing


In August 2015, seven NCS student ambassadors and four staff members visited China at the invitation of the Jinan-Sacramento Sister City Corporation on its 30 Anniversary Celebration Trip. NCS students and staff visited Shanghai, Xi’an, Mount Tai, Qufu, Jinan and Beijing and performed in each city as a part of its initial phase of the One Voice China project. This phase of the project aimed to use arts and cultural exchange to connect American youth with Chinese youth and to find common values and promote international understanding.

One of the songs for this project was, “Be the Change,” an original song written by NCS drama teacher Mr. Rick Gott. The song’s lyrics were inspired by the words of Confucius, “To know what you know, you need to know what you don’t know.” The song invites listeners to begin a dialogue of understanding that can help to create positive change in the world.

Upon their return from China, the student-lead team designed and facilitated creation of an original multi-media visual and performing arts production that engaged the greater Natomas Charter School community.  The production consisted of western and eastern elements that included original choreography, original poetry and song, monologue and vignettes, digital animation, and original music. Students from the Jinan Pre-School Education College brought pieces and collaborated with the N.C.S. students in other numbers. There were three public performances that reached an audience of over 800 people.

This production was based around the values the N.C.S. students and the Chinese students found they had in common, which were:

  • The Environment: A Call To Action

  • Peace

  • Education

  • The Arts: Our International Language of Understanding

  • Ambition To Succeed

  • Family

  • National Pride

Upon the completion of the One Voice China production, the faculty of N.C.S recruited 12 additional students for a redesigned performance for a Chinese audience.  A team of 12 students and 8 N.C.S. staff toured areas of China with an extended stay in Jinan, in April of 2017.

Hosted by students and families of the Jinan Pre-School Education College, we performed the One Voice China production in Jinan. This performance was the capstone of the three year partnership.

Although the performance arch of the One Voice China Project is completed, N.C.S. is still connected to our sister city in Jinan. Annually, we host students from Jinan through our partnership with the Jinan Sacramento Sister City Corporation.

The N.C.S. community would like to thank the following groups for their support of the One Voice Project:


Sungerbey visits Natomas Charter School


NCS Ambassadors and Costa Rican Students

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In April of 2018, N.C.S. launched year one of our One Voice Costa Rica Project: an international exchange project focused on the sustainability of our environment. We sent a team of eight Natomas Charter School Students and four N.C.S. faculty to Costa Rica to begin a partnership with two schools in Costa Rica. With the support of Ecology Project International and the Edward Anderson Foundation, our students participated in environmental activism on the Pacuare Sea Turtle Reserve. We visited two schools (Liceo Cariari and LEB Pococi) and took part in conversations with students and arts exchanges. We recorded these exchanges and upon their return the N.C.S. One Voice Costa Rica Ambassadors held a “Turtle Talk” reflecting upon their experiences.


Through this process the N.C.S. students discerned that they shared the following values in common with their Costa Rican Peers:

  • Human Connection

  • Empowerment through Faith

  • Environmental Activism

  • Chosen Family

  • Power of Community

  • Ideas of Success

  • Pura Vida


Lastly, the students of N.C.S. and our Costa Rican partner schools started to develop artistic pieces to illustrate these values.  



In March of 2019, we had amazing ecological and artistic exchanges! We brought 12 Costa Rican students and 2 faculty members to Sacramento in March of 2019. N.C.S. families hosted the students while they were in Sacramento from March 20-30, 2019. While they were in Sacramento, our Costa Rican guests joined N.C.S. students in ecological learning opportunities at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve and the U.C. Davis Quail Ridge Nature Preserve. They also performed in the One Voice Costa Rica Production at the Benvenuti Theater in Sacramento on March 28-30, 2019. This multimedia artistic production blended ecological understandings and artistic expression as well as celebrated the values NCS and Costa Rican students found they have in common.

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ONE VOICE Yellowstone
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In a celebration of cultural exchange, civic diplomacy, and environmental stewardship, Natomas Charter School’s Performing and Fine Arts Academy revived its "One Voice Project" in 2023-2024. Established in 2008, the One Voice Project has contributed to a greater understanding between Natomas Charter School and its sister schools across the globe.

Previously focused on international exchange, the One Voice Yellowstone Project took a new direction. In light of the political and cultural divisions within the United States, the project attempted to foster civic diplomacy and environmental stewardship inside the United States. Hosted by Ecology Project International, the team of 11 NCS Students, 3 NCS Faculty, and 1 EPI board member, explored Yellowstone National Park's ecosystem, and gained education about environmental conservation. The PFAA One Voice Ambassadors traveled to Gardiner, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park from October 7th to October 13th, 2023, where they participated in environmental stewardship activities and visited Gardiner School. The team participated in wolf tracking projects, bison tracking projects, conservation education, and contributed to a bison restoration project. The team also collected data for the National Park Service on the bear encounter preparation of hikers in the park. The team visited geysers, hiked several trails, and toured the northern third of the park. The team met with Gardiner Students in Yellowstone Park and then visited Gardiner School where they performed and held a dialogue exchange with ninth-grade students at Gardiner. 

Upon their return to Sacramento, the team held a One Voice Yellowstone Town Hall event on Wednesday, November 29th at the Benvenuti Theater. This event included artistic performances from the One Voice Yellowstone ambassadors, the sharing of footage and reflections from the trip, and discussions about the values Natomas Charter Students found they had in common with their counterparts from the Gardiner School in Montana.

The Values of the One Voice Yellowstone were: 

  • Curiosity 

  • Connection

  • Gratitude

  • Unity 

  • Community

  • Empathy

  • Harmony

  • Passion

  • Ambition

  • Character

  • Reciprocity

Following the trip, the One Voice Ambassadors contributed to environmental projects at NCS. As leaders of the Ecology Task Force, they created “The Advisory Recycling Project” or TARP. This project restarted glass, paper, and aluminum recycling at the PFAA high school and hopes to expand to the middle school. One Voice Ambassadors also held workshops to educate more students in PFAA about their project and performed at NCS’ PACT academy. Several members of the One Voice Yellowstone Team took part in the first Green Schools Action Committee Meeting in Downtown Sacramento in February 2024. The culmination of the One Voice Yellowstone Project will be the installation of a mural on the NCS Campus in Spring 2024.  

The One Voice Project is not merely a cultural exchange; it is a testament to the power of unity, understanding, and shared responsibility. By delving into the realms of civic diplomacy, artistic expression, and environmental stewardship, the students of Natomas Charter help weave a tapestry of international friendship that aims to transcend boundaries and illuminates young people’s potential to create positive change in our world.


The N.C.S. community would like to thank the following groups for their support of the One Voice Yellowstone Project:

The Natomas Arts and Education Foundation
The Edward L. Anderson Foundation
Ecology Project International 

Written by Jeff Pollard and Molly Nealon (Class of 2024) 

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Yellowstone Ambassadors

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Artistic Director 

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Artistic Director 

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