Freedom High School Logo

Courtesy of Freedom Falcons.

Liberty Union High School District (LUHSD) is getting ready to pull back the curtain on construction of a performing arts center and construction-technology areas at Oakley’s Freedom High School.

The project — slated to commence at the end of this month and be completed in January 2021 — is expected to feature a theater with specially designed rooms to accommodate theater and choir classes, as well as separate construction-technology spaces to jumpstart students’ development in that field.

“The performing arts center is something that will benefit the community and our students by using a real stage and having a real theater to be able to practice and use for performing, and the (construction technology addition) will give them another CTE — career technical education — pathway, which will benefit them for moving on to college or their career,” said Freedom Principal Kelly Manke.

The construction-technology center — featuring a conventional classroom and a second working classroom for hands-on teaching and projects — will be built behind the future performing arts center, located near the school’s current multipurpose room, on the grass near the softball field.

Construction costs for both projects will be covered by the 2016 passage of Measure U — a $122 million district bond measure, although the school is still seeking a grant to cover curriculum costs, Manke said.

District officials said the variety of nearby construction companies and associated student opportunities prompted them to turn to the construction technology route when looking to increase the school’s career technical education offerings.

The California Department of Education’s California School Dashboard, which, in part, tracks school and district performance levels, shows that students are more college- and career-ready if they complete a two-year CTE program.

The program’s curriculum is still in the planning stages, but one option is to use the nonprofit California Homebuilding Foundation’s free, four-year construction trades program course, Manke said.

The key topics covered include the foundation of residential and commercial construction, the study of modern craftsmanship and infrastructure, and energy efficiency and future infrastructure. It requires students to complete a capstone project, which could include the construction of tiny homes that could incorporate design skills, basic construction work and electrical and plumbing elements.

The program is CTE-approved and is accepted by the University of California and California State University systems.

Oakley City Councilmember Kevin Romick, a member of the school’s Construction Technology CTE pathway curriculum committee, said career technical education implements a new approach to vocational training, designed to offer high school students the opportunity to learn valuable skills, gain job experience and support from participating sponsor companies and mentors.

Heritage High School in Brentwood also intends to ramp up its CTE offerings through Measure U by constructing an on-campus culinary arts classroom building that includes a kitchen, patio and small garden, to serve students in a new program expected to incorporate food service, hospitality, recreation and tourism elements.

Liberty High, which already features a CTE-centered auto shop program, will add or update a variety of on-campus elements, including football stadium improvements, a new aquatic center and school entrance, main administration building, remodeled cafeteria and a new, U-shaped classroom building featuring 16-20 classrooms.

“We are very excited to be adding to each site, facilities that will further enhance the quality of our programs,” said Eric Volta, LUHSD superintendent.

Manke said the school would seek a credentialed construction technology teacher to run the program, once construction on the project gets rolling. The program should be offered to students at the beginning of fall, 2021.

For more information on the project or other district projects expected to be funded through Measure U, visit bit.ly/MEASUREUprojects.

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