SAN LORENZO -- Soon, high school students will film movies and produce television shows in a new $6 million digital arts studio with a 3,100-square-foot sound stage, a control room, an editing suite, a voice-over room and a TV studio complete with several cameras and a teleprompter.

The studio, home of the district's Bay Area Digital Arts program, is on the San Lorenzo High campus. Since the program started more than a decade ago, students have been making do in a converted auto shop. About 400 to 500 students are enrolled in the digital arts program.

"Lance McVay, who is in charge of our digital arts program, worked closely with designers on the studio. He really wanted to get at the cutting edge of the industry," said Barbara Billich, district work-based learning specialist.

The studio was paid for with $3 million from a 2008 voter-approved bond measure and a matching grant from the state.

"Students learn a variety of skills in the digital arts, such as writing scripts, operating cameras, recording audio, filming a movie and all that goes into it. The program includes not just the filming, but the business side as well," Billich said. "Students learn to organize a project, and someone is the producer, the director, cameraman, etc. It shows them the variety of careers available in the digital arts."

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, and she said students may be able to move in as early as next week.

School board President Norm Fobert said he was pleased that residents wanted the center and grateful they approved the bond measure.


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"When we did a survey of what people would be willing to support for the bond, the digital arts center came up as one of the top items," he said.

Penny Peck, who attended San Lorenzo High in the 1970s and serves on the district's board, said no other area schools provide a studio as advanced.

"I am so excited about this new building and all the technology that will be available. Students will be learning cutting-edge technology they will be able to use at college and the workforce, in movies, television and video games," she said.

"For them to be able to use this is amazing."

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.