Community abuzz about new Performing Arts Center at local high school

By mvlife on August 27, 2010

Many in the community are abuzz after learning that Capistrano Unified School District trustees on Tuesday voted to solicit bids for a new performing arts center for Capistrano Valley High School.

The proposed $12.7-million center on Via Escolar will consist of a 458-seat, two-story building of nearly 28,000-square feet. It will serve as a first-class performing arts center for music, drama, dance and more and will provide classrooms for music and drama students. The school could break ground on the much-needed performing arts center in January, and the facility could be completed by next summer.

To cover the cost, the district’s current Board of Trustees obtained $3 million in state grant funding and have identified $9.7 million in Mission Viejo Mello-Roos funds.

Many say a performing arts center at this school, which opened in 1977, is long overdue.

“The school is 33 years old and it’s been a dream of the performing arts kids and community in general to have an adequate performing arts facility, which will change everything,” said Principal Deni Christensen. “We have a lot of talented kids at Capo (and throughout the district) and have no enclosed theater … Anytime we do anything, it’s done in a central hub space of the school. This will take the standard of our performances up and will be a showcase everyone can be proud of.”

Emily Tucker, the school’s drama teacher and theater director, said such a facility will also help to retain students.

“A performing arts facility, instead of the cafeteria/multi-purpose room/locker hallway/student hangout/stage will greatly benefit the students, the faculty, and the community,” she said. “We have a growing performing arts program, but it always seems to top out at a certain number of students, and the retention rate is low since the students get frustrated with the inadequate facilities and feel that performing arts is undervalued at CVHS … With a new performing arts facility, we will not only attract more students into the program (and retain them), we will be able to put on higher quality performances.”

Tucker said that with more students involved in after-school activities like drama, band, or dance, there are less reasons for them to get into trouble because they have nothing to do once the bell rings. “Extra-curricular activities provide a safe haven and intellectual stimulation to students after 3:00 p.m.,” she said.

Dwipa Kumar, a Mission Viejo resident since 1989, has two daughters in dance and has spent much time scouring the county trying to book a performing arts center for their dance recitals.

“CVHS theater is going to be a great asset for our community and we are so excited this is happening,” she said. “The city needs a nice performing arts center and we need to promote the arts. It builds a stronger community …”

Mayor Trish Kelley concurs.

“I have actively pursued this important addition to CVHS, and I am most excited that we will soon see a new Performing Arts Center on Capistrano Valley High School’s campus,” Mayor Kelley said. “I thank my City staff, (who persistently tracked the expenditures of the Mission Viejo funds), my City Council colleagues (who have supported the theater), the CVHS Foundation (which brought the issue front and center and raised money and awareness), the CUSD Trustees who listened and responded to our requests, and the parents and community members who have worked so hard to help to make this dream a reality.”

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