The Media Arts Center at Palo Alto High School supports the growing demand for the teaching of media arts in the 21st century. Built in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 23,000-square-foot building houses 600 students a day engaged in photography, video production, audio music production, multi-platform journalism (radio/podcast, television, print, web and social media) and more. The journalism program alone houses a competitive media marketplace for an ever-changing stable of between a half-dozen and dozen publications, including many award-winners and some titles (The Campanile newspaper and Madrono yearbook) dating back more than a century.
The MAC was funded in 2008 by a bond passed by Palo Alto voters as well as a $2.7 million grant from the State of California. In addition, as a result of efforts from our Paly MAC Booster parent group, multiple foundations and families have donated to support interior furnishings, equipment, and other support for the programs in the building.
The goal of the MAC program is to provide state-of-the-art, project-based educational opportunities for students, with an emphasis five founding principles (borrowed from the former San Jose Mercury News reporter Chris O’Brien’s Next Newsroom project): Community, Collaboration, Innovation, Multi-platform publishing, and Transparency
True to its purpose, the MAC involved students as far back as 2008, when students from across the school’s media arts programs were asked to design their own versions of the building, with the five founding principles in mind. The most popular of these ideas were integrated into the building’s conceptual design presented to the Board of Education in September 2009.
The community’s appreciation for the conceptual design of the project was recorded by The Paly Voice on Sept. 26, 2009, in “School Board enthusiastically approves new media arts center and classrooms.” In January 2010, Palo Alto Online reporter Chris Kenrick recorded a similar reaction after a presentation of the schematic design to the board in “Paly, Gunn teachers laud campus building plans” (Jan. 13, 2010)
As the building neared its opening in 2014 and the student press at Paly gained access in early hardhat tours, it became clear that the MAC was indeed something special.
- The Campanile, “A sneak peek of the new Media Arts Center/” (Jan. 26, 2014)
- Verde, “Media Arts Center,” (Feb. 10, 2014)
Beyond Palo Alto, the MAC also was making its mark as an achievement in scholastic architecture and a landmark for student free expression, from the First Amendment sign affixed outside the main entrance to the student-selected comic headlines immortalized on tiles on the bathroom walls. .
- Dow Jones News Fund Adviser Update — ”Don’t be afraid to leap” (Winter 2013)
- HED “A landmark institution defines the future of media arts”
The most significant press occurred in fall 2014, when the school hosted a three-day celebration of its opening.
- The Paly Voice — Media Arts Center to receive grand opening — Aug. 21, 2014
- MediaShift — “A Student’s Perspective on High School Journalism in California” (Oct. 4, 2014)
- Palo Alto Online Paly to host three-day grand opening for Media Arts Center (Oct. 12, 2014)
- The Campanile, Media Arts Center to host Grand Opening (Oct. 13, 2014)
- Palo Alto Online — “Palo Alto school-district bond, dreams of students brought media center to life” (Oct 17, 2014)
- Verde magazine — James Franco to appear at MAC grand opening (Oct. 16, 2014)
- Palo Alto Online — Journalism students hone their skills in state-of-the-art facility (Oct. 17, 2014)
- Youtube: James Franco Speech – Paly Media Arts Center Grand Opening (Oct. 26, 2014)