DOWNEY - Hoping to encourage students to embrace both creative arts and technical skills, Lowe's has awarded Warren High School with an $11,000 campus improvement grant.Students and faculty will use the funding this year to construct several educational fixtures on campus, including a movie back lot modeled after Paramount Studios. Every year, home improvement store Lowe's partners with SkillsUSA to award various schools around the country with both community and campus improvement grants aimed at helping promote education and technical trades. Warren High School construction teacher Kent Kiess and film teacher Andy Lundsberg, who were both involved in the application process, said the school drafted a proposal that would also incorporate the needs of arts students. "They're all included in the grant," said Kiess, who will oversee the portions of the building project. "It was set up to cover film, culinary arts, photography, construction, graphic arts…We asked for $11,200 and got it all. In addition to the back lot, we will be building a garden for the culinary arts program, and the old weight room will be turned into a warehouse for construction classes." With a deadline of Nov. 20, the school is moving quickly, already preparing plans for the new structures, which will be unveiled during an opening ceremony this fall. Unlike other building renovations around campus, these additions will be designed, painted and constructed primarily by Warren students. "The art department is doing most of the painting, my intermediate and advanced construction students will be working on it…Everyone is coming together to work on this," said Kiess. "You can't recreate this in the classroom. It's a huge learning experience that puts them ahead of other students. It motivates them…they realize that they can do it." After touring both Warner Bros. and Paramount Studios, Kiess and Lundsberg look to model the Warren film back lot after the historic movie studios by creating the fa?ßade of a small town street on the front of a building, providing more options to students when filming. Lundsberg said students will paint an entire wall to look like a street with several storefronts and a rundown alleyway. Concrete curbs and sidewalks will also be added along the fa?ßade. While some storefronts will be nicely decorated with brick and steel, others will be distressed in order to appear aged and unkempt. Depending on which angle Lundsberg's film students direct their cameras, they will be able to depict a variety of different scenes with the backdrop. "What it's going to do is give them the ability to be creative," said Lundsberg. "We'll have a permanent back lot where the film students can use their creativity. They can shoot a scene on campus, they can be in a small town, or film a mugging in New York or even be in a field." The grant money also provides for a new, 20-by-20 herb and produce garden designated to the food and culinary science department, although students will periodically use the garden for filming. The additional space will allow students to grow more food that can be used in the classroom and the school cafeteria. Currently, construction students are working on plans and elevations for the new workshop warehouse, which will be used for classes after the old weight room facility is renovated and enclosed. Once completed, Lundsberg believes the changes to the campus will greatly benefit students, allowing them the opportunity to experiment while gaining vital trade skills outside of the classroom. "These are career skills that will help them market themselves to employers," Lundsberg said. "Everything we do is industry standard, not high school standard, so they can go into the industry if they so choose. They can walk out of here and get a job."
********** Published: April 7, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 51