Ceres Unified School District held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new performing arts center on June 22.
Located near the main office and E building on the Central Valley High School campus at 4033 Central Avenue, the venue will be named after retired CUSD music teacher Ricardo Campero.
Campero, who taught at Ceres High School for 25 years and spent the latter part of his career working with Ceres elementary students, spoke at the 10:30 a.m. ceremony, which was attended by family, friends, former students and colleagues, and district leaders.
“It’s a big honor,” said Campero, who retired in 2008 but has continued to educate Ceres children through the district’s GATE program during the summertime. “I’m more happy that they’re building a performing arts center. This is something I’ve been wanting for many years. We need a place for our students to perform.
“I have to give Ceres Unified credit,” he added. “They know the importance of teaching the arts. A lot of places are taking that away from students and the community.”
“Ric deserves the title,” said Ceres High School theatre arts teacher Stephen Dias. “He’s an awesome guy. He was on the panel when they hired me. We’ve worked on and off together for 13 years. He’s extremely talented, musically. He loves teaching and the kids.”
Construction is anticipated to be completed by January of 2023.
The 5,000-square-foot black-box theater will serve as a district-wide performance venue for CUSD’s band, choir and drama students, offering a floor-level stage and 400 retractable seats that can be configured to accommodate a variety of needs.
The venue will also include overhead stage lighting, a dedicated lighting and sound room, and an off-stage green room.
The project is expected to cost upwards of $9 million.
It will be fully funded by CUSD through the use of capital facility funds.
“We always planned to have a performing arts center at Central Valley,” said Jay Simmonds, assistant superintendent of Student Support Services for Ceres Unified. “It was in the original plans when the high school was first built. Some changes in the bonding capacity allowed us to do it.”
“Dr. Scott Siegel and the Board of Trustees followed through on a commitment they made,” Campero said. “They turned talk into action. And for that I applaud them.”
“We’re very excited,” said Central Valley High School theatre arts teacher Jennifer Elliott. “Having that place is going to be great for the prep work and performances. Right now, my English classroom is my storage space, my workshop and my rehearsal place.”