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Posted: 7:55 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013
By Rob Roth and John Sasaki
SAN MATEO, Calif. —
A new state-of-the-art performance venue had its grand opening on Thursday night as students and teachers got their first chance to enjoy the renovated theater at San Mateo High.
Officials said the work on the performing arts center cost $28 million.
Students danced their hearts out in class Thursday afternoon, but said they can't wait to do it on the school's new stage.
"It's my senior year; it's a great way to kind of close out the year and perform in something so beautiful," said dancer Rachel Royce.
The school's actors are also eager to perform in the newly redone performing arts center.
"It gives our students a wonderful chance to experience something very much in line with what they might experience if they get involved in professional theater," said Drama director Brad Friedman.
The outer shell of the building remained, but everything inside is different.
In addition to a new balcony and basement, new lighting and seating, the venue boasts acoustics that officials said rival professional theaters.
"It's moving. You can feel the energy in this room," glowed San Mateo Union High School District Deputy Superintendent Liz McManus.
The project was paid for with $28 million in bond money at a time when many school districts are cutting the arts.
"People go back to just the absolute core subjects and they cut out anything people consider maybe the fluff," said McManus. "What they don't understand is the arts bring students in."
A variety of community organizations will also use the theater. But the primary purpose will be to serve as a venue for students to perform and learn.
"People don't understand that the education that they receive in the arts transfers into everything else they do," said musical director Attilio Tribuzi.
Sophomore actor and dancer Lauren Madden summed it up the emphasis the school is placing on the arts.
"I think it's great that we are not cutting it," said Madden. "And we are enhancing it. It's just one of our aspects here at San Mateo High, and we're just so lucky to be a part of it."
San Mateo High is the sixth and final high school in the district to get a totally revamped theater.
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