Palo Alto High School is celebrating the opening of its state-of-the-art, multimillion-dollar Media Arts Center next weekend with three days of tours, guest speakers and an open house.
From Thursday, October 16 through Saturday, October 18, there will be events to showcase the two-story, 23,000 square foot building, which is packed with cutting-edge video, editing, recording, and other journalism-related activities. Technology. After three years of construction on the building, Paly journalism students and teachers have finally been able to take full advantage of the centre, which houses the school‘s seven student publications at the start of this school year.
The Media Arts Center is the result of the $378 million Strong Schools Bond passed by voters in 2008. The technology housed in the facility – from 119 new Apple desktops and 13 LCD TV screens to six interview booths soundproofed rooms and a high-tech room for Paly’s daily show, InFocus – was also made possible through the efforts of the Paly Media Arts Boosters, a group formed to provide advisory and financial support to media arts projects and initiatives, and a $2.7 million Career Technical Education Grant from the state for which former Principal Jackie McEvoy applied.
Former journalism advisor Paly Ellen Austin and current teacher and advisor Paul Kandell presented the concept of the media arts center to the school board in 2009 after the school bond passed. They started by talking to the students about what their dream journalism center would look like.
“The question was, what will the newsroom-classroom of the future look like?” Kandell said.
The resulting vision was of a building that promoted cross-platform publishing, collaboration, innovation, transparency, and a sense of community.
And the sense of community is meant to extend beyond the Paly campus. Longtme Journalism Advisor Esther Wojcicki and Kandell want the center to be a true community space for public meetings, debates, conferences, film festivals and lectures.
In that vein, the second day of the opening celebration will be an open house from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be tours of the building as well as food trucks.
“Day two is really for the community, to bring the community in to see what they’ve funded,” Wojcicki said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the building. They did the bond and then the school board backed the whole thing. It really took a lot of people working together to make this building happen.”
An invitation-only event on Thursday will feature Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, David Kelley of Ideo, who now runs the d. school; and Shelby Coffey, journalist and administrator of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The three speakers relate to the ideas and concepts presented in the building, from the conceptual thinking of Ideo integrated into the journalism program to the decorative elements inspired by the Newseum, an interactive site journalism-oriented. Museum. Wall Street Journal technology reporter Kara Swisher will host the evening.
On the final day, October 18, Paly graduate and journalism student James Franco will return to his alma mater to present an art exhibit titled “Yearbook Paintings” and to premiere a lengthy music video from his new album. group. Limited tickets are available for purchase to attend the evening.
Wojcicki said the project-based learning model in Paly’s journalism and theater programs had a significant impact on Franco’s life.
Over the three days, an unusual video exhibit will be shown on the center’s television screens: footage from the Global Lives project, which collects videos from around the world that capture people going about their daily lives. The 24-hour images are broadcast in sync with the time zone where they are displayed, so people visiting the center at 6 p.m. Friday might see an Italian, Nicaraguan or Mongolian at 6 p.m. in their country.
Designed to strengthen intercultural empathy, the project will be available for viewing by all Paly students for several weeks. Some social science teachers at the school have also incorporated the project into their curriculum.
Wojcicki said the Global Lives Project is just one example of how the Media Arts Center can be used to improve student learning.
Wojcicki – who has worked with Paly journalism students since 1984 in a range of settings, from a corner room in the school’s tower building with 19 students to a laptop with a leaky roof, no air conditioning and 84 students – sees the Media Arts Center as heralding a new era in journalism education.
“The goal of this grand opening is to show not only Palo Alto, but the nation, that journalism truly is the curriculum of the 21st century,” she said.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
Thursday October 16
5:30-7:00 p.m.: Hors d’oeuvres and viewing of the Global Lives project/visits
7-8:30 p.m.: Presentations by guest speakers
Friday October 17
5-8 p.m.: Community open house; RSVP here.
Saturday October 18
5-8 p.m.: art exhibition by James Franco and preview of the film. Tickets are $5 for students (with student ID) and $20 for general admission. Proceeds will be used to support programs at the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Center and the Firehouse Art Co., a nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To buy, go to eventbrite.com.