June 27--Atascadero High School's drama teacher is leaving the school to become the new manager of the Templeton Performing Arts Center.
"At this point in my career, this is a real step up," said Catherine Kingsbury, who will also take over Templeton High School's theater program. "Templeton right now is in the position to be promoting its arts across the board. ... I feel I can do more with a theater and a home base like that."
Kingsbury's hire by the Templeton Unified School District, which became official Thursday night, is part of a concerted effort to create "a really powerful arts program" at Templeton High with a fully utilized performance space, Principal Andrew Cherry said.
"Basically we're increasing our arts program by about 70 percent," he said, by adding courses and bringing back programs such as choir.
Primary to the plan is the Templeton Performing Arts Center.
"We want it to be a giant classroom" for students interested in learning how to run a theater, Cherry said.
Kingsbury said she'd like to see the 331-seat venue host more student productions and community groups.
"They have a beautiful facility (at Templeton High) that's been underused," said Kingsbury, who has more than 30 years of experience teaching in San Jose and the North County. "I'm very excited about the possibilities to promote that facility and use that facility."
In addition to directing Atascadero High's theater program, Kingsbury also oversaw the drama program at Atascadero Fine Arts Academy.
Atascadero High Principal EJ Rossi said the Atascadero Unified School District will launch the search almost immediately for replacements at both sites -- seeking applicants within the district and via the school employment site Edjoin.org.
"As a district and a site, we are very committed to all our arts programs," he said.
Before Kingsbury begins her new posts at Templeton High, she will accompany about 30 Atascadero High students to Scotland in August to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The trip is being facilitated by the American High School Theatre Festival program.
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