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Opening of Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine High School in South Los Angeles

As far as spinning machines go, a turntable — not a washing machine — seems a more fitting association with rap artist Dr. Dre.

But for students at the Los Angeles School District’s new high school, Andre’s brainchild “Dr. Dre” Young and fellow music industry mogul Jimmy Iovine, the humble washing machine became the star of a lesson in water conservation. The students conceptualized and built a cardboard prototype with a tank that actually rotated, with the potential to recycle gray water for irrigation.

This kind of thinking is at the heart of the Iovine and Young Center Integrated Design, Technology, and Entrepreneurship Magnet, a high school based at Audubon Middle School in the Leimert Park neighborhood. The star power of the school’s namesake has helped attract freshmen and sophomores, and educators hope the school will serve as a bright spot to reverse declining enrollment by engaging young minds in cool, forward ways. – guardian.

Sean Roberts, a ninth grader, said the chance to meet Dr. Dre was a selling point. He wants to become a pharmaceutical scientist.

He chose the school because “I felt like the things they taught and the school tries to do will help me in my career. And the more I researched it, it seemed really fun.

“And,” he added, “it would be nice to meet a celebrity like Dr. Dre.”

Dr. Dre and Iovine did not disappoint, taking the time to have their photos taken with the students at an official opening ceremony on Thursday during the first week of school.

When the two launched the project with school board approval, Dr. Dre said he wanted to bring in “the younger me” and create a campus where students would be excited to learn. What emerges is neither a school of music nor even a school of the arts. It’s not even a training ground for the music industry, although some students might find themselves in that field.

It’s a place the founders hope can fill a void they saw in the business world – when they ran a record label and later the company that made Beats headphones.

“We found that when hiring people, they either had one of three or four different disciplines,” Iovine said, or as engineers, designers, creative talents, or business people. “They didn’t know how to work together. They couldn’t talk to each other. … And it’s very, very important that in today’s workplace people understand the other disciplines and learn about the other disciplines.

In high school, students will face problems that will require the joint application of skills taught separately in a traditional education.

Director Akilah Calhoun deliberately chose teachers with multiple skills: “My art teacher has a degree in English. And she also has a career technical studies degree in arts, media and entertainment.

“We’re talking about opportunities for students to experience computing alongside math; ethnic studies alongside entrepreneurship,” Calhoun said. “Students work as a team throughout the day. We no longer isolate content areas.

Principal Akilah Calhoun tells Andre “Dr. Dre” Young on Thursday how students are collaborating on projects at the new public school he co-founded.

(Howard Blume/Los Angeles Times)

To develop the program, the faculty worked with instructors affiliated with USC Iovine and Young Academy, the already established college-level version of high school. Iovine and Dr. Dre hope to eventually take this approach to the elementary level.

Although Dr. Dre did not speak at Thursday’s event, he made it clear in a previous interview that he wanted the school to create the kind of excitement for students that his experience lacked. in local public schools.

So far so good, said ninth grader Kylie Bailey.

“We’re not just sitting in class taking notes and going home to do our homework,” Kylie said. “We are now starting to think about real-life situations and how we can apply what we have learned in those situations. It’s only been four days and I’ve already learned to improve my speaking skills. I also learned how stereotypes affect us, affect our food and our identity in [studies] to classify.”

These ideas are not all new. Much of this approach is reflected in a new wave of vocational and technical education that is changing middle and high schools – to make school more relevant. It doesn’t hurt to have two celebrities say they’re willing to spend whatever it takes to develop a top-notch program, which so far includes around $2.5 million in upgrades. facility level.

Zion Adams, another ninth grader, is a rapper and Dr. Dre’s background was significant to him: “I felt like it would be a good opportunity.” He was impressed with the USC facilities he saw during the school’s summer program, although they have yet to be replicated on the Audubon campus.

Zion previously attended a private charter school before enrolling in an LA Unified program this fall.

Calhoun, the principal, estimates that 30% to 40% of students came from charters or learned online last year in response to the pandemic. The school is close to its goal of 60 ninth graders, but has struggled to recruit 10th graders – getting high schoolers to switch schools can be difficult. The program will gradually expand to a secondary school from grades 9 to 12.

Because the new school is a magnetic program, the Los Angeles school system provides transportation and students come from as far away as the San Fernando Valley. Most are black.

Officials hope the school can help offset some of the rapidly declining LA Unified enrollment, though it is also taking inspiration from other district-run schools in the area, which are already struggling with a low enrollment rate.

Superintendent of LA Schools. Alberto Carvalho characterized the school on Thursday as one of the best brands of innovative choices that will attract students and serve them well.

USC Academy Dean Thanassis Rikakis said the goal is to “bring learning innovation to education” and “create more inclusive educational experiences and environments.” , fair and accessible”.

Los Angeles Times

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