A $40 million renovation of Renaissance High School for the Arts is officially complete. Students, staff and parents celebrated their refurbished campus during a re-opening ceremony this week, with several dignitaries helping to mark the occasion.
Attendees enjoyed vocal, dance and drama performances by Renaissance students. Speakers included Board of Education Member Juan Benitez, Principal Kimberly Holland and former Principal Mark Zahn.
“I want to thank everyone in the district who made sure this campus is open for the academic year. This really should be a jewel for our community,” Benitez said. “Thank you to everyone who made this day possible.”
“It’s an amazing, amazing change,” said former Renaissance Principal Mark Zahn. “The Long Beach Unified School District has always supported Renaissance. They have now invested millions of dollars in this campus, and it is fantastic. Renaissance is back, and I’m sure it’s back well into the 22nd Century.”
Funding for the project came from school bonds approved by local voters. The major renovation includes a new two-story performing arts building, a physical education building, an open amphitheater in the center of campus, a new parking lot, perimeter fencing, marquee, signage and exterior sculpture. Buildings were retrofitted for earthquake safety, energy efficiency and accessibility by people with disabilities. New paint, ceilings, doors and floors were included, and portable classrooms were removed. The Office of Multimedia Services building on the campus also was renovated.
With about 500 students, the small high school’s pathway, or emphasis, is Arts Media and Entertainment including instrumental music, vocal music, costume design, graphic arts, visual arts, stage technology and drama. The school was refurbished specifically to accommodate this pathway while offering rigorous college preparatory courses, including numerous Advanced Placement classes. Renaissance has been listed as a top high school in the nation by the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report for seven years in a row.
The arts high school opened in 2004 on the site where the first high school in Los Angeles County (outside the City of Los Angeles) was built in 1898. The school was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in 1918 and again after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.