Where Students Become Musicians

Youth Arts Academy was established at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito in 2007, to serve the growing number of students interested in performing arts.

At Youth Arts Academy, we’re all about nurturing your artistic spirit with a perfect blend of professionalism and casual coolness. So, gear up, bring your passion, and join us at Youth Arts Academy to unlock your full artistic potential!

Our Impact

We incorporate the 6 Characteristics of Creative Youth Development into our programing:


Youth are engaged in safe and healthy spaces

Relationship Building

Programs focus on positive relationship-building

High Expectations

Programs are artistically rigorous and set high expectations of youth participants.

Asset Based

Programs are asset-based and help youth to build upon their inherent strengths and talents

Youth Driven

Programs are youth-driven and honor student voice.


Program approaches and outcomes are holistic, recognizing a range of youth needs and often integrating with other service providers to create a coordinated community response to those needs.

Youth Arts Academy is a specialty program of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Deiguito. We proudly align our values with their mission of providing POSITIVE activities to develop the education, health, self-esteem and character of youth. Learn More

Our Mission

Youth Arts Academy provides young students access to a myriad of quality programs designed to stimulate their GROWTH, CREATIVITY, and SELF-EXPRESSION through the arts.

Our Vision

Students leave this space having not only grown as artists, with heightened creativity and self-expression, but also armed with tools and skills that will prepare and support them through their life’s journeys.

Meet Our Team

Admin Staff

Darby Schnoebelen

Program Manager

Darby’s love for the arts started at the age of five, when she was cast as the lead of a musical, and her passion has only grown over the years. She was born and raised in San Diego County, only leaving to fulfill her dream of moving to New York City and studying Theatre. By the end of her undergrad career, she had three majors: Theatre (Performance and Digital Media), Business (Media and Arts Management), and Communications (Cinema Television and Emerging Media) from Marymount Manhattan College.

Her passion for storytelling then took her to The Disneyland Resort®, where she spent the next three years. In her time there she also received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University.

Darby joined the Youth Arts Academy and Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito Team in October 2022, and she is thrilled to share her love of the arts and storytelling to the youth served by the YAA Program.

Wil Lopez

Program Assistant & Music Instructor

  • Guitar

    (acoustic and electric)

  • Electric Bass
  • Ukulele
  • Saxophone
  • Clarinet
  • Rock Band

Wil discovered his passion for music in middle school band at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Picking up the clarinet as his first instrument and baritone saxophone in high school, he performed at multiple festivals, musical productions, and in the Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra in his junior and senior year. Attending Mesa College and San Diego State University, Wil continued his education in music.

At age 13, Wil discovered a passion for the electric guitar and rock music and that passion led him to perform on stages all over the Southwest United States, writing, recording and releasing his own music, recording with multiple bands of multiple genres. Several of those groups were nominated for San Diego Music Awards.

Wil joined the Youth Arts Academy as an instructor in 2018 and became the Program Assistant in the fall of 2021. Wil is ecstatic to share his passion for music with the youth served at the Youth Arts Academy and is thrilled to push the program forward.


Alex Pockrus

Music Instructor

  • Drums
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Ukulele
  • Voice
  • Rock Band

Alex first took up music upon entering Middle School and was fortunate enough to have a band teacher that insisted all the percussionists learn xylophone and music theory. This led to him learning piano and guitar in addition to the full drum set. Though his collegiate studies weren’t as streamlined as most, he finally ended up at Florida State University’s College of Music, principaling in guitar.

After graduating and spending some years in the Rocky Mountains, Alex has landed upon the Southern Californian Coast and is filled with enthusiasm teach at Youth Arts Academy!

“Music is the Mother of All Science” -Victor Wooten

Scott Sayre

Music Instructor

  • Piano

    (Classical, Jazz, Improv, Composition)

  • Brass

    (Trumpet, Tuba, and Trombone)

  • Music Theory
  • Jazz Studies
  • Jazz Band
  • Rock Band

Scott Michael Sayre (@scottmsayre) is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has been working as a music educator since 2011. He serves as an artist in residence for the San Dieguito Union High School District and gigs professionally as a pianist and trombonist. Being from Solana Beach originally, Scott is a product of the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Arts Academy, and graduated from Torrey Pines High School.

He has a Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of South Carolina as well as a Bachelor of Music degree in Computer Music Composition from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. Scott has taught a high school class on digital music composition as well as composed, guest-conducted, and performed for all sorts of musical ensembles.

Some of his original works can be found on ReverbNation and most music streaming platforms. He also creates music video art and gaming content on Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.

Julia Whelpton

Music Instructor

  • Strings

    (Cello, Violin, Viola)

  • Guitar

    (Acoustic and Electric)

  • Electric Bass
  • Ukulele
  • Piano
  • Voice
  • Songwriting
  • Rock Band

Also known as “That Blonde Bassist,” Ms. Julia Whelpton has been a working musician and music educator for over a decade. From playing to teaching, she has been involved in many avenues within the music industry. Some of which include writing, creating and filming subjects related to music. She has also been fortunate enough to tour and perform regularly all over the country, playing bass and violin. Julia teaches mostly stringed instruments such as: violin, viola, cello, bass (double and guitar), acoustic/electric guitar, and ukulele, along with voice and piano. Like other instructors in the program, she is a rock band instructor and has taught other small music ensembles throughout the years.

Some of her accomplishments include creating a violin methodology series, sponsored by The Teaching Company, where she wrote and filmed 24 videos on how to play the violin. Julia has also had the pleasure of performing regularly with the San Diego Music Award nominee, Roni Lee, as well as the LA based band: The Infinite Sadness Tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins. Most recently, she starred in a few music videos for other musicians and bands, and loves to play as studio session player. Julia proudly endorses Pighog Cables, Reunion Blues Gig Bags, Reverend Guitars, Westone Audio, and Gravity Picks. Needless to say, playing music is not only her passion, but her way of life.

Education: B. A. Music Studies with an emphasis in Violin at Cal Poly Humboldt, formerly Humboldt State University

Join Our Team at YAA

Where passion finds its voice, talents soar to new heights, and artistic dreams become realities.