EDUCATION: Charter school for performing arts pitched for Riverside – Press

EDUCATION: Charter school for performing arts pitched for Riverside


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 Encore Junior and Senior High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Hesperia produces nine theater performances a year, said Steve Dekaney, executive director for enrollment. Encore is petitioning for a second charter school in Riverside.


What: Riverside Unified School District board will hear a proposal for Encore High School for the Arts charter school

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Riverside Adult School, 6735 Magnolia Ave., Riverside


What: Holiday Festival performances by students of Encore Junior and Senior High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, of Hesperia, including choirs, bands, orchestras, acrobatics, drama scenes and “The Nutcracker,” as well as art galleries

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Riverside Municipal Auditorium, including the large auditorium, courtyard and garden room, 3585 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside

Cost: $5 donation requested


Name: Encore High School

What: A 7-year-old charter school in Hesperia seeks to open a second, similar school in Riverside focusing on visual and performing arts.

Academics: It uses the same curriculum as all California public middle and high schools but also requires students to pass all classes required to be eligible for university admissions.

Conservatories: music, dance, technical arts (such as photography), circus arts and acrobatics, theater are planned in Riverside

A charter school focusing on music and performing arts hopes to open a Riverside school for Inland students.

Encore High School for the Arts would be Encore Education Corp.’s second school and follow one in Hesperia in the San Bernardino County high desert. School officials plan to produce nine shows a year in music, dance, theater and acrobatics as well as photography.

Organizers are looking at downtown Riverside sites for the school, which would be open to any student in the state, said Steve Dekany, executive director for enrollment at Encore Junior and Senior High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Hesperia.

“We have families who drive from Riverside, Corona, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga,” he said.

Some had asked Encore to open in Riverside, which he said seemed to be a natural fit because Riverside promotes itself as the City of Arts and Innovation and has arts downtown.

The Riverside Unified School District board will hear Encore’s charter petition at 5:30 tonight. Encore officials will give an overview and show the school board they have community support. The school board will vote on the petition next month unless Encore requests an extension, said Gloria Cowder, a district director who reviews charter petitions.

Charter schools are free public schools that don’t have to follow all the same rules as regular public schools.

Encore uses a block schedule in which students take eight classes per semester. Each class meets for 90 minutes every other day. Students also attend a daily 50-minute study hall, when they can get most or all their homework done, get tutoring help or study in groups.

High school students must take all the classes required to get into a university.

At Encore, students usually join one of five arts conservatories in dance, music, theater, circus arts and acrobatics in the Cirque du Soleil style, and technical arts, which Dekany said includes photography and fashion design in Hesperia. The conservatories have nine performances a year, not just two as in most traditional high schools, said Dekany and John Griffin, one of the founders and chief operations officer.

They plan to open with about 300 students in seventh through ninth grades and expand another grade level each year until it serves seventh through 12th grades as it does in Hesperia.

Dekany said Encore hopes to offer after-school programs with Riverside School of the Arts at Cesar Chavez Community Center, a program run by the city Parks and Recreation Department in Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood.

Contact the writer: 951-368-9455 or