Renaissance High performance space

The centerpiece of the $40 million makeover at Renaissance High School is the Performing Arts Center.

Renaissance High School survived a fire in 1918 and the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

Now, after having been temporarily relocated for two years, the students are back on the site where the first high school in Los Angeles County (outside the city of Los Angeles) was built in 1896.

The school celebrated its grand re-opening on Wednesday, Jan. 23, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performances around the campus.

The $40 million renovation includes a new two-story performing arts building, a physical education building, an open amphitheater in the center of campus, a new parking lot, perimeter fencing, marquee, signage and exterior sculpture. Buildings were retrofitted for earthquake safety, energy efficiency and accessibility by people with disabilities. New paint, ceilings, doors and floors were included, and portable classrooms were removed.

“This school can support a platform to a career in the arts; it’s just wonderful,” principal Kimberly Holland said.

Holland, a former music teacher at Bancroft Middle School in her third year at the arts high school, said the centerpiece of the makeover is the Performing Arts Center.

“It is state-of-the-art,” she said. “It presents students with an opportunity to land jobs in the industry.”

Students have been back at the school at Long Beach Boulevard and Eighth Street since fall. They, too, say they are pleased with the transformation.

“This school is just beautiful,” said Hannah Wells, a sophomore majoring in costume design. “I love how the windows are so big; they let in lots of light.”

The school even has a new mascot.

“As our new school rose from the ashes of the old, our students chose the Phoenix to represent Renaissance moving forward,” Holland said at the ceremony.

While the school’s primary emphasis is arts, media and entertainment, Renaissance also offers rigorous college preparatory courses, including numerous Advanced Placement classes. The school has been listed as a top high school in the nation by the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report for seven years in a row.

“This is a long time in coming," LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser said. “To me this is a beautiful example of what our community has invested in because this is paid for with school bond money. I’m very excited.”

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