SDJA unveils plans for transforming former library into performing arts auditorium.
By Sammi Weiss (‘23)
(Photo: Tibbits Opera House, Coldwater Michigan. Wikimedia Commons)
The red fabric curtains fly open and the stage is ready for the performance. The audience awaits the show in their seats and quiets down as the theater lights dim. The first cast members appear on stage and begin the performance. This is how the new, forthcoming Ana “Janche” Galicot Performing Arts Auditorium at the San Diego Jewish Academy will inspire creativity in the students. It will bring forth opportunities and possibilities that the school has yet to put the spotlight on.
It all started with an idea by Skip Carpowich, SDJA’s CFO/COO, about how to utilize the former library space in a more efficient way.
Next, enter the passionate Paula “PK” Brannon, K-12 Theater Director and Teacher. Ms. Brannon has had a love for theater for many years: she pursued a career in directing in New York and is currently the director of theater programs at San Diego Jewish Academy.
Creativity is key in acting, says Brannon, it “allows you to always think outside the box. [The arts] allow confidence to take root and stay with you throughout your life.” Take this idea, for instance: transforming the library, a quiet space for reading and working, into an auditorium, a loud room dedicated to performances. This will be a creative and out-of-the-box way to utilize that space. With a new auditorium, students will be given the opportunity to explore their artistic identities.
The auditorium will help foster students’ creative expression, similar to how football fields or tracks prompt students to perform athletically.
One of the key aspects of the performing arts is theater. Currently, in the 2019-2020 school year, SDJA only offers one high school theater class, The Coffeehouse Project.
Kayla Swartzberg (‘21), a current junior at SDJA, expresses her passion for theater through acting. “I’m glad that the school really supports the arts and wants to nurture it more for students who are interested,” Swartzberg says. She is full of excitement to showcase her talent in this new auditorium.
Sophomores, Kate Aizin (‘22) and Alec Amiel (‘22), are passionate about theater and think that the auditorium will maximize this space’s potential. Amiel says, “sharing the music room, while it’s nice and convenient…it’s nicer to have our own theater.” Aizin and Amiel have also helped cultivate the idea for Open Mic, and they both think that this interactive lunch time activity could additionally be a good use of the auditorium. Aizin explains, “We have barely any performing arts classes, except for High School Music and Advanced Music, and I think we need more drama!”
Julia Schultz (‘23) is one of the only freshmen who currently pursues her passion for acting both inside and outside of school. “Theater is very important because it helps us grow and learn…as an actor,” Schultz says. She is eager to let her acting skills flourish in the auditorium.
Another aspect to performing arts is music. Whether it is learning to play a new instrument or continuing on the path to becoming a better musician, music flows through our campus.
An upcoming graduating senior, Evan Kohn (‘20), participated in Advanced Music class this year. Kohn says, “this was a good class to practice and improve my ability.” He wishes this auditorium had been a part of his last year of high school, but he appreciates the opportunity “for performing arts…to be seen in a new light [in the years to come].”
Devin Marcus (‘21), an 11th grade pianist in Advanced Music, says the auditorium would be a good place to put the students’ musical abilities to good use. “We could encourage the music department to host events there,” Marcus explains.
Two freshmen, Adam Glasser (‘23) and Lia Gabai (‘23), are both talented singers who share a love for music. “[The auditorium] will bring in a lot of new possibilities to the school,” Glasser shares. He adds that music is one of his passions because “it brings out a part of me that is otherwise kept inside.” Likewise, Gabai explains how the auditorium will provide opportunities for the school, which, she believes, should “absolutely offer more performing classes because at this age it will be used as a way to branch out and be yourself.”
As the red curtains close for the library, the spotlight will soon shine on the immense opportunities promised by the school’s new performing arts auditorium.