At 7:30 this morning, with temperatures already pushing one hundred degrees, hundreds of students streamed into the pristine new green, orange and muted grey cubes of the Valley Academy of Arts and Science for their first day at this brand new school. Students were unusually quiet--almost shy--as they took in the fresh paint, the lush landscaping, and the state of the art 21st century classrooms that would be used by them for the very first time.
After years of angst and anticipation—including a divisive community vote on whether the school would be charter or LAUSD -- the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences finally opened on the site of the old Granada Hills hospital. The school— 875 9th, 10th, and 11th graders--is one of nine new schools that are opening this school year across the district. Lead by Principal Gregory Vallone, with a progressive project-based curriculum that is the first of its kind in the San Fernando Valley, students will learn the Common Core California Standards.
Walking up the school’s concrete steps, eager students and parents were greeted by teachers in business attire, who welcomed them and answered questions. TV crews stood by to capture the moment.
"Not only will Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences offer students a complete A-G curriculum, but it will also bring theatre arts, dance, vocal and instrumental music, and visual/digital arts programs to the west valley," said LAUSD Board Member Tamar Galatzan, who has worked for years to ensure the new Valley school would be a success. "This school will give students interested in pursuing an arts-centered education the opportunity to do so in their community."
Despite the calm atmosphere, excitement filled the air as students embarked on what would be their new school and congratulations circulated among district teachers and administrators. “I came to this school because I love to dance,” said one student.
The Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences is equipped with state of the art auditoriums, dancing studios, and wireless internet—something the district is still struggling to get into all of its schools. By February, students at VAAS will be using digital text books called Nooks instead of conventional text books, according to Principal Vallone.
The Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences will have an official Grand Opening event that will take place on October 27, 2011 at 5pm.