Proposed school will offer innovative learning

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By Darlene Donloe

Contributing Writer

LEIMERT PARK — Students in South Los Angeles will be exposed to new career paths and opportunities through a first-class college preparatory curriculum and enhanced learning programs that will be offered at a new school slated to open in fall 2022.

The school is the brainchild of artist and music producer Dr. Dre and music industry mogul and entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine who joined with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner to announce the innovative project June 14.

The new school, approved June 8 by the L.A. Board of Education, will be called Regional High School No. 1 until its formal name has been established. It will be located on the Audubon Middle School campus near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The school’s curriculum will build on USC Iovine and Young Academy’s ground-breaking approach that combines design, business and technology with hands-on, real-world learning to help develop young leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“I think it’s going to be something extremely different,” said Dr. Dre, whose given name is Andre Young.

Dre, who grew up in Compton, rose to stardom as part of the gangsta-rap group NWA. He and Iovine co-founded Beat Electronics, which launched the popular headphones Beats By Dr. Dre.

“We’re here strictly for the kids and trying to give them a future and something promising that maybe wasn’t available before now,” Dre said. “That is our intent.”

“Generations of students will benefit from the extraordinary career opportunities this dynamic partnership will offer Los Angeles Unified students,” said George J. McKenna III, the only Black member on the LAUSD Board of Education. “These innovative academic programs are exactly what our students need to stay motivated and inspired to continue their educational journeys to college and beyond. Thank you for investing in our future.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District is the nation’s second-largest school system, with more than 80% of the students identifying as Black or Latino.

“This new partnership with Jimmy, Dr. Dre, and the USC Iovine and Young Academy will help open the doors of opportunity for students, in particular, Black and Latino children, from communities which have been historically underserved,” Beutner said. “Much like the work of the Academy, this effort will help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

Iovine, 68, said the school, located in an area where kids have struggled academically, will cater to students interested in running their own startups.

“I want to encourage people like us that have been fortunate and have success to come to these neighborhoods and really do something positive,” Iovine said. “We want to give the next generation of students access to a proven, revolutionary learning experience that will not only prepare them for the jobs of today, but equip them to reimagine and shape the jobs, technologies and creative enterprises of the future. We’ve already succeeded in higher ed. Now we’re bringing it to high school.”

Beutner said students will not be handpicked to attend the new high school.

“It’s not a talent program where we are screening for proficiency in knowledge of these areas before a student comes to high school. We wouldn’t expect that,” Beutner said. “But it’s important students who come to a place like this, want to be at a place like this and are prepared to do the work to excel.”

The school is expected to begin enrollment soon and is projected to initially serve up to 124 students when it opens in August 2022, with the ability to expand over time and accommodate up to 250 students.

“We expect to open the doors to this school to start the next school year,” Beutner said. “The initial enrollment will be for ninth and 10th-graders. We will add a year as we go. Expecting to have about 250 students within the first couple of three years. I think we are going to blow the doors off those estimates because I think this type of education in this neighborhood is going to be quite attractive.”

The school, considered a “magnet school,” will focus on innovative business and technology-based education.

In 2013, Dre, 56, and Iovine, through a visionary gift, founded the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy, an educational startup designed to establish a new school to nurture critical thinking and unbridled creativity at the intersection of four essential areas: arts and design; engineering and computer science; business and venture management; and communication.

“The USC Iovine and Young Academy was founded on a mission to develop educational programs that are adaptive to the ways in which technology is influencing our culture, and responsive to the individual needs and creative passions of our students,” said USC Dean Erica Muhl. “From grade school through college, our students are not just part of the dramatic changes we’re experiencing in how we live and work, they’re driving those changes through an innate understanding that the world today, their world, no longer fits neatly into the traditional disciplinary silos we’ve built for them.”

The new high school will mirror the Academy’s unique educational model, which is nationally recognized for its exceptional student outcomes.

The Academy’s graduates are on the rosters of leading companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, DreamWorks and Sony, as well as launching successful startups that have garnered more than $120 million in seed funding to date, according to the LAUSD.

 Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at ddonloe@gmail.com.

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