Correction: Linda van Gelder, not Barb Schroeder, is the 2014-15 president of the PTSA. Barb Schroeder chaired the Back-to-School Picnic.
After about three years of construction, the grand opening of Palo Alto High School’s new Media Arts Center will be held late Thursday afternoon, before the annual Welcome-Back-to-School dinner.
The approximately 15-minute ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. at the MAC with an opening from Paly Principal Kim Diorio, followed by some words by Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education President Barb Mitchell, according to head of Media Arts Boosters Debbie Crouch.
“The Welcome-Back picnic is kind of what drove us to have the ribbon cutting at that time because we’d have a group of people on campus,” Crouch said.
Diorio and Mitchell will thank members of the district office who were involved, the people who ran the construction project and the Brin-Wojcicki Foundation, which has donated around $80,000 for extra equipment in the building’s classrooms, computer lab, kitchen, atrium and more. The foundation’s donation was an icing on the cake to the $50,000 already raised by boosters, $10 million paid for by Measure A and a $2.7 million state Career-Technical Education grant the project won.
According to Crouch, the ceremony will end with an official ribbon-cutting by Diorio, Crouch and others to officially complete the project that was kicked off by the passage of Measure A in June 2008. These representatives of the long-term project will even use official scissors for the occasion.
“The boosters bought the big ceremonial scissors that are 38 inches tall so a lot of people can hold on to them,” Crouch said.
As an administrator who has been involved with the MAC project for quite some time, Diorio is enthusiastic about the opening of the building.
“I’m really excited about this building and this space because I think it’s really innovative and creative in nature and in design,” Diorio said. “I think obviously it was built to showcase our media arts programs … but I think it will be more than that. Not just a classroom space, but a space the whole school will benefit from because there’s a lot of smaller spaces within the building that people can go to [and] collaborate.”
Diorio also anticipates the building to be used not just for classroom purposes, but for meetings and event hostings as well.
“We’re gonna use it [the MAC] for staff meetings, [and] we’ll use that atrium area for a lot of events,” Diorio said. “I think the Media Arts boosters are working on lining up some different speakers. Because it can hold about 150-200 people, we can easily seat that, and that’s just on the ground floor.”
To continue the celebration of the MAC’s grand opening, the PTSA will be hosting the annual Welcome Back Dinner at the Quad. As a new experiment this year, the food will be provided entirely by food trucks.
“We’ll cut the ribbon and then folks can do a couple of things,” said head of district public relations Tabitha Hurley Kappeler. “They can either go back over to the Quad where there will be the food trucks, or they can do tours [of the MAC].”
According to Diorio, the event has used the same caterer for many years and the PTSA just wanted to do something a little different and a little more exciting.
“She [PTSA President Barb Schroeder] approached me back in the spring and said, ‘What if we did food trucks’ and I said ‘sure, let’s try it,’” Diorio said.
According to the Paly Link bulletin email, the dinner will include Takoz Mod Mex-Mexican, Rice Rockit (Filipino/Hawaiian Fusion) and Paddy Wagon Sliders. Lastly, Kona Ice-Shaved Ice will have a parking spot on the Quad to serve dessert.
The Welcome Back Dinner will also include a number of performances from student groups, including the dance and cheer teams, as well as Paly’s own band and choir.
“Given the two new buildings being open and the food trucks and the student performances, it should be a fun night,” Dioro said.