Thirty-five years after it opened, is on its way to finally getting a theater.
The Board of Trustees of the unanimously approved Monday night hiring a contractor to build the $12 million theater.
"It's the culmination of a lot of work and the beginning point for a lot more work," said Ron Lebs, deputy superintendent of business and support services.
The new theater will feature 446 seats, a lobby, ticket office, restrooms, backstage area, one choral classroom, one band classroom, one stage-craft classroom, one production-digital-recording classroom and one “black-box” classroom for drama students, according to a staff report.
CVHS opened in 1977. An indoor amphitheatre sandwiched between offices, lockers and eating areas in a section of the school known as “the mall” serves as a place to stage plays, concerts and other events, but it’s far from ideal, said Gabby Gerstly, a junior involved with both drama and choir at the school.
"I am thrilled that Capo will finally have a theater to showcase its talent in the future, but find it very disappointing and frustrating that I will have never been given the opportunity to perform on Capo's future, state-of-the art theatre,” she said. “I know we are all hoping for an alumni show."
The proposed schedule targets a June 2013 grand opening – too late for Gerstly but not her freshman sister, Allison, who also sings and acts.
“I hope that the theater will be finished while I am still a student at Capo because performing in that theater would be the perfect high school experience I dream of," Allison said.
At $11,975,007, Edge Development Inc. in Temecula submitted the lowest of 12 bids. The school district is using money from Mello Roos community finance districts in Aliso Viejo and Mission Viejo and $3 million from the state Career Technical Education Facilities Program grant.
Parents have been actively campaigning for a theater at Capo for about eight years.
"It's a long time coming,” said Jim Young, a former director of the CVHS Foundation, a fund-raising group of parents. “Since the days when Capistrano Valley High School was neglected and abused by the district through the district's growing phases, finally the students of CVHS and the community of Mission Viejo will see the long-deserved improvements that finally bring this high school on par with the best as it should have been.”
Sharon Campbell is the current president of the foundation. Her children have already come and gone through Capo, but she remains involved because of the importance of the project, she said.
Capo has the largest student population of any Mission Viejo high school, she said. "The theater will be welcomed not only by the students and their families and teachers but also residents of Mission Viejo and the wider community.”
Campbell added: “This project is the culmination of many years of hard work by a lot of determined people."