Posts Tagged ‘Conejo Valley Unified School District’

The Carpenters: Top of the World

When my son, now 20, was in middle school at Ascension Lutheran School, in Thousand Oaks, he came home one day after practice for the school production of “Charlie Brown” and in exasperation exclaimed, “It’s not going well. Mr. Carpenter says we’re not ready, and he’s a professional!” And then it dawned on me: Traci Carpenter was one of David’s classmates. Mr. Carpenter was Richard Carpenter, of the famed duo The Carpenters.

Richard and his wife, Mary, of Westlake Village, have long been supporters of the arts in the Conejo Valley. Now, their latest donation bears their name at Westlake High School: The Carpenter Family Theatre.

In a gala celebration last evening, a sold-out crowd thrilled to performances by students from the high school Drama Department, the Symphony Orchestra, the Wind Ensemble, the Choir and, of course, members of the Carpenter family, including Richard himself.

The new theater features improved site lines and state-of-the art audio, lighting and video capabilities, plus enhanced acoustics and all-new interior surfaces and finishes. Other improvements in the new theater include the elimination of the multi-tiered cafeteria floor, which is the entry chamber to the theater, while excavating the old theater room to accommodate the new seating.

Outclassed by performing arts centers constructed at Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park High Schools in the late 90s, the 1970s-era black-box theater at Westlake High School was long overdue for a theatrical facelift. Richard and Mary Carpenter approached the staff at Westlake High School and the school district about expanding and renovating the theater, and offered a substantial contribution to jumpstart the project.

With a $4 million budget, construction began in June 2009, using the Carpenters’ donation and funds from the CVUSD Measure R Bond and the State Modernization Grant. The Carpenters’ donation came through the Conejo Schools Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm for school district.

Introducing the final number last evening, “Top of the World,” as a continual royalty maker, Richard Carpenter called the song “the gift that keeps on giving.” And so his family’s generous gift to Westlake High School will keep on giving for generations to come. He is, after all, “a professional” in the true spirit of the word.