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New Roads School's Visionary Village Marks Milestone

School officials, education leaders and benefactors including Herb Alpert celebrate the completion of steel framing for the Performing Arts and Leadership Center.

"This is a wonderful day," New Roads School President David Bryan said Friday morning, amid a break between rain showers, during a ceremony at the school's Santa Monica campus.

Speaking to dozens of school officials, education leaders and benefactors—including Herb Alpert, Santa Monica Mayor , and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President Neil Portnow—Bryan stood in front of the school's future Performing Arts and Leadership Center.

The Friday ceremony marked the completion of steel framing for the center, which is the centerpiece of the multimillion-dollar Herb Alpert Educational Village. The center's benefactors include Alpert; Jerry Moss (who, along with Alpert, founded A&M Records); and Steven Spielberg.

"We've been working on [the village] for 10 years, and we've had more ups and downs than the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers along the way," New Roads School founder Paul Cummins told the crowd. "In college, I took courses on existentialism. 'Angst,' 'fear and trembling' ... this project taught me operationally what those words mean."

With the village, Cummins, Bryan, and other New Roads School and education leaders are hoping to redefine the meaning of "a good education," Bryan said. The three-phase project will be a locus not just for students and administrators but for nonprofit organizations as well, with the goal of having all its inhabitants working collaboratively and creatively toward common goals in educational advancement.

When complete, the village's -friendly campus will comprise multiple green buildings that use locally produced materials and rely solely upon natural light and air flow. The second and third phases will involve the redevelopment of the New Roads School campus from Olympic Boulevard to Nebraska Avenue.

As for phase one, the center will feature the 350-seat Ann and Jerry Moss Theater, with acoustics engineered by Disney Hall acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota. The environmentally friendly facility will also house the Capshaw-Spielberg Center for Educational Justice, classroom spaces for New Roads School, office and meeting spaces for nonprofit organizations, and an art gallery. It was designed by John Berry Architects, under the executive supervision of House & Robertson Architects.

With the framing in place, the remainder of the center's interior and exterior will now be constructed. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is projected for October, with students and nonprofit organizations due to move into the center starting in January 2013. During the Friday morning ceremony, the esteemed musician Alpert announced to the crowd that he and his wife, singer Lani Hall Alpert, who was also present, would christen the center with a concert.

As was reiterated throughout the ceremony, the village would not have been possible without the support of the Herb Alpert Foundation, which has donated $11,000,000 to the project.

"Every step of the way, when I felt we couldn't get over the next hurdle, Herb would sometimes call me and and say, 'I think you need a little more help,' " Cummins said. "Those in the fundraising world know you don't get many calls like that."

Returning the praise, Alpert told the crowd that "Paul has a unique concept about education, and it's not just about the academics. It's about getting the most out of a student, to appreciate their differences."

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