EAST LOS ANGELES — Seven years after Garfield High‘s historic auditorium was destroyed by an arson fire, the school on Saturday held a ribbon-cutting for a new theater that school officials hope will trigger a revival of arts on the East L.A. campus.
The Jaime Escalante Auditorium and Memorial Plaza looks nothing like its predecessor, a 1925 building with paneled ceilings, murals and chandeliers. Instead, the starkly-modern, 1,400-seat auditorium provides the campus a cutting-edge, audio-visual system, broadcast production studio and a facade covered with large, colorful images of performers and Escalante, the acclaimed math teacher who taught at the school and inspired the making of the film, “Stand And Deliver.” A circular plaza separates the auditorium from a new three-story building that includes classrooms and administrative offices on Sixth Street.
Construction of the new auditorium was delayed by a dispute with the school district’s insurers. The auditorium and new classrooms and offices had been expected to cost $54 million.
“The Garfield community is ecstatic over the ribbon cutting event of our new auditorium,” Garfield’s Principal Jose Huerta said in a school district statement. ” Our students will finally be able to showcase their talents in music, drama, and video production in a state-of-the art venue. The arts will come alive once again at Garfield Senior High School.”