New Fresno Performing and Arts Center Opens Its Doors. Here are Some Fun Facts. - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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New Fresno Performing and Arts Center Opens Its Doors. Here are Some Fun Facts.



Visitors tour the Elizabeth V. Lyles Theatre in the Warkentine Culture and Arts Center at Fresno Pacific University. (Fresno Pacific Facebook)
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Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

Wednesday was a big day for Fresno Pacific University, where officials gathered for the official ribbon-cutting to herald the opening of the new Warkentine Culture and Arts Center. It’s the first new building to be built on the southeast Fresno campus in the past 20 years.

Al and Dotty Warkentine are the main namesakes for the $15 million center, but pretty much everything inside it contains the names of other benefactors whose gifts helped make the center possible. There’s the Elizabeth V. Lyles Theatre, Lin Family Performance Studio (black box theater), Dr.  Merrill and Priscilla Ewert art gallery, Edmund and Mary Janzen Grand Foyer, Dyck Family Green Room, and Reimer Family Scene Shop.

Construction on the 26,000-square-foot building began in November 2020. The new center will be a resource not only for Fresno Pacific students and staff but also for the community, the university noted.

The university provided these “fun facts” (School Zone is particularly impressed at the equivalency of concrete tonnage):

  • More than 400 tradesmen and 44 subcontractors contributed to the project, dealing with everything from subfloors to stage lights.
  • Over 32,000 labor hours went into construction — the equivalent of three and three-quarter years.
  • 103 tons (206,000 pounds) of steel were erected — more than an orca but less than a blue whale.
  • 2,365 tons (4,787,000 pounds) of concrete were poured — about two Sierra redwoods plus a baby elephant.
  • 23.45 miles (123,800 feet) of low-voltage cabling was laid — roughly a trip from the main campus to River Park and back.
  • 360 light fixtures dot the inside and outside of the building.

Also in School Zone: 

  • Fresno Unified hands out scholarships to seniors.
  • These Clovis North siblings captures first place in worldwide science competition.
  • UC Davis bug museum trying to track down Fresno “dogface butterfly” students from 1972.
  • Reedley College is offering more than 200 courses tuition-free.

These Fresno Seniors Got Bonus Bucks for College

Seventy Fresno Unified seniors will find their path to college a little smoother. They were selected to receive scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 out of a scholarship fund established by the district and supported by community members and district staffers.

Altogether, a total of $103,500 in scholarships were handed out Thursday night at the awards banquet at the Hoover High Events Center in northeast Fresno.

Despite facing challenges — the loss of a parent, poverty, and language barriers — the 70 excelled academically and in school activities, volunteered for community services, and were leaders on their campuses, the district said.

“In honoring our Fresno Unified Scholarship recipients, I am amazed at their stories of resiliency and determination throughout their academic journey. They are deserving of our financial support, and I am grateful for the help of our employees and the community to ease their burden a bit as they advance toward college,” Superintendent Bob Nelson said in a news release.

Winning Science Prize Is a Family Tradition Apparently

Clovis North students John Benedict Estrada and his sister Pauline won a $5,000 prize recently in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for their project using artificial intelligence to detect drought stress in plants.

That makes two wins two years in a row for John Benedict, who claimed the Gordon E. Moore Award of $50,000 for Positive Outcomes for Future Generations in last year’s Regeneron contest — also for using artificial intelligence to detect drought stress.

John Benedict told GV Wire last year that he was planning to take his project a step further and do actual field testing this year.

The Regeneron competition has been described as the “Olympics of science fairs.” The Gordon E. Moore Award is one of the competition’s top six honors.

Want to know more about the Estradas’ award-winning project? Click here.

Did Your School Project at Dailey Elementary Involve the Dogface Butterfly?

The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis is on the hunt for anyone who was a fourth-grade student at Fresno’s Dailey Elementary in 1972. (School Zone figures you’d be about 60 years old now.) Specifically, a fourth-grader in the class taught by Betty Harding and Shirley Klein.

The museum is planning a special event celebrating the anniversary 50 years ago of the California dogface butterfly being named California’s official insect. That all came about because students at Dailey got so excited about the butterfly, which is found only in California, that then-Assembly Member Kenneth Maddy sponsored a bill to have the dogface butterfly designated the state insect.

If you know anyone who was in that class, contact Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, at

Want to know more about the dogface butterfly, also known as the “dog-head butterfly”? (The image on the wings is supposed to resemble a side view of a pooch’s face.) Check out Garvey’s blog at

California dogface butterfly poster

Reedley College Cuts Cost of Some Classes

If you’ve been putting off taking college classes because they are too pricey, does Reedley College have a deal for you.

The college is making available to the public through its Extended Learning program 217 noncredit courses, including American Sign Language, basic computer skills, welding, and healthcare interpreting, music, horticulture, and creative writing.

The courses aren’t completely free, however. Participants will need to pay a health fee ($21 in spring and fall semester, $18 in summer, and $13 exclusively off-campus) but will skip course fees that can average $138 for a three-unit course.

To learn more, go to, call (559) 494-3011 for application assistance, or email

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email