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Renaissance Arts To Boost Performance

Renaissance Career Academy plans to offer many additional courses in performing and visual arts next fall, subject to approval of a grant that would provide up to $1.5 million over three years. The magnet arts focus is part of a plan to boost achievement and college readiness at the downtown Long Beach school, Principal Mark Zahn said. "Renaissance is looking at three ways to close the achievement gap," said Zahn. "First, we've upgraded course offerings to encourage more students to meet the A-G University of California requirements. Second, we're improving instruction. Third, we're motivating students to attend. The arts classes will help encourage excellent attendance." The school already has been renamed Long Beach Renaissance High School for the Arts. This fall it added courses in dance and digital art to complement its drawing and painting, beginning dance and introduction to theater classes. The federal grant of $300,000 to $500,000 annually for three years would help pay for renovations, equipment and teacher training. The grant also would fund choral performance, web design and play production classes. Students throughout the school district would audition to enter the school, beginning with next fall's freshmen. By eleventh grade, students would have to pick an elective focus. Students currently enrolled will not be required to audition. Renaissance administrators will find out in March or April whether or not their grant is approved, Zahn said. "We're optimistic," he said. "This school has a strong track record of attracting major grants."