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Theater project in wings for Antelope High

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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Roseville Joint Union High School District trustees recently approved going forward with a performing arts center at Antelope High – ending years of uncertainty about whether and when the district’s next school would include a dedicated theater. “It’s kind of that last piece of the puzzle for the school,” Principal John Becker said. Antelope, the district’s fifth comprehensive high school, is slated to open in August with freshmen and sophomores from the Antelope community who currently attend Oakmont High. While a theater was originally in the plans, officials scrapped the project after massive construction cost increases sapped the district’s facilities budget. The axing of the project was a sensitive issue for many in the Antelope community. Some residents felt the school would not be able to offer a full program in the arts without one. Getting a theater built was also a major cause for trustee Kelly Lafferty, who died in office in 2007. However, officials said the project would be revived if a financially feasible plan could be found. It turned out one was close at hand. The nearly 14,000-square-foot, 460-seat theater slated for Antelope is a re-use of a plan for a theater at Sacramento’s Kennedy High School. RJUHSD staff discovered using the design of that project, developed by Roseville-based architects Williams+Paddon, would significantly reduce costs and delays. “It expedites the timeframe because it’s already under review at state architect’s office,” said Chris Grimes, district facilities director, referring to the time-consuming state approval process that afflicts ground-up new projects. “I think there was a strong commitment of the board and district administration that Antelope be a complete school,” he said. Antelope’s theater, which officials estimate to cost about $8 million, will include a drama classroom and be located at the front of the campus, Becker said. He said construction could begin before the end of the calendar year in time for an opening in 2010. “The good part is the students here will get to use that theater,” he said. Work on the other buildings at the school, located at 4635 Elverta Road in Antlelope, is mostly complete, Becker said. “We’re still registering students, still monitoring construction and working on that process,” he said. “During the last two weeks, all the furniture’s been coming in.” About 825 students are registered so far, he said. And most of the 36 teachers that will staff the school in its first year have already been hired. “We just keep growing – we’re well over 100 kids above what we expected,” he said.