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August 25, 2019
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Farmers’ Market party on the plaza Sept. is suicide prevention month New start at school board meeting RPDPS receives grant to fight alcohol-related crime Wake up to social crisis San Francisco Mime Troupe to perform in Cotati RPPS encourages public to drive sober PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program accepting applications for aid Spring Lake Water Bark kickoff Contact information needed from about 150,000 PG&E customers Santa Rosa doctor overprescribing First day of school and new friends Home-based learning on the rise A slow and painful wait for a downtown RP Council looks at serious close-to-home issues Cotati City Council of Aug. 13 New Column Gun violence in the U.S. and globally Join CASA of So. 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AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified Burglary suspect found with firearms Urban growth boundary benefits State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track May CalFresh month celebration So. Co. Behavioral Health and Health Services in the county jail Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU Cotati sees its first homicide in 24 years New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system Sonoma County Fair reviews safety protocols Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship Illegal robocalls and spoofing Watenpaugh returns to lead CRPUSD RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Music alive in Cotati Call to action in Ca. Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Elder abuse rising in So Co U10 Cal Ripken champions say Aloha Impersonating pharmacists Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season Cotati’s code of conduct School board follows its policy Free school supplies Correction to the July 26 issue R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant RP moves to curb false alarms Doggone hot days are here! Warnings weren’t enough! 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Water City of Cotati switches to 100% renewable electricity I’m ready, bring ‘em on! 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Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality

  • TAG building opens soon Photo by Jane Peleti

By: Lanny Lowery
March 29, 2019

The well-lighted Theater Arts Gymnasium Building at Rancho Cotate High School looked warm and inviting in the early morning darkness.  Band students trickled into the old band room, secured their instruments and lined up waiting for the word to march into the new building.  Band Director Tim Decker, clad in Rancho red, gave the signal and the students walked the hundred or so feet past the main entrance of the Theater lobby and through the hall that led to their new room.

Excitement filled the room as the band members found their seats laid out in a semicircle.  As warm up sounds filled the room, first bass Lauren Poteet exclaimed, “I love the new band room!  I am very excited to be here!”  Mr. Decker raised his arms, and framed by two tubas, pushed his baton into motion leading the students to run the scale set of notes.  And then the historical moment arrived as the band played the well-known fight song.

With the march music lingering after the band stopped playing, Mr. Decker pointed to some of the features in the new room.  He explained how the microphones would allow the room to become a recording studio.  He talked about the audio/video capacities of the room and how the big screen would allow the marching band to visually review their parades.  On the east wall, the storage room held places for all types of instruments.  Practice rooms invited individuals and small groups to work on songs and routines.

Then the band director announced that the first concert would take place Thu., Mar. 28 at 7 p.m.  The class then ran through the Disney show including the “Mickey Mouse March” and the medley of familiar songs such as “Zippity Do Dah!”  Thus the TAG Building became officially initiated as an academic facility.

Three decades ago, educators and community members handed out flyers to pass a school bond.  According to the leaflet, bond money would build a new gym and a theater arts hall at Rancho Cotate High School.  This plan never happened.  But nearly thirty years later, Mon., Mar. 25, teachers and students, returning from spring break, entered the Theater Arts Gymnasium to continue their pursuit of education in the 56-million-dollar structure that combines the gym and theater concept along with more educational opportunities.

Many impressive facts accompany the cost of the entire facility.  The gym’s seating capacity of 2,500 makes it suitable, not just for the Cougars’ rallies and sporting activities, but also as a site for regional events.  The theater seats 250 and can be combined for larger presentations when a video projector and a huge screen on the western wall are used.  The gym itself boasts of its 40,000 square feet.

First and foremost, this educational facility contains several classrooms that expand the academic possibilities at Rancho Cotate.  The very large band room will also house the orchestra and the choir.  Drama classes, working in a real theater, will benefit by actually practicing on the stage.  Near the stage, a shop will produce screens, props and scenic backdrops.  Students will not just study stagecraft but will actually participate in making sets.  Actors and others will learn and practice make up art as the dressing rooms have a common area with make up stations.

Other classrooms include a dance studio with an appropriate hardwood dance floor, glass walls and mirrors.  Rancho’s wonderful dance program that offers modern dance and aerobics will expand.  Also, a weight room contains top-of-the-line equipment and the potential to grow another great program.  Next door to the weight room, a multi-use classroom allows subjects such as sports management and business to be held on the first floor.

Stairwells at the northeast and southeast corners of the building permit students and teachers access to the second floor along with elevators.  Girls’ and boys’ locker rooms run along the east wing on the first floor.  Also, many coaches’ rooms, recovery rooms, and boys’ and girls’ team rooms, situated adjacent to the locker rooms and offices allow easy access to the gym and all of the fields.

The spectacular gym and theater run from east to west.  Separated by a moveable wall, the screen and stage can be viewed by spectators in the bleachers.  The gym, covered by a beautiful hardwood floor, shows Rancho’s colors proudly through the bleachers.  “Cougar Country” lettered nicely above the south bleachers identifies the home side.  The name of the gym, “Henry J. Sarlatte,” will soon appear above the north bleachers.  In the theater, comfortable seating ascends several rows to the west.

North of the theater, but south of the band room, the Green Room houses state-of-the-art makeup facilities.  Adjoining the makeup room, girls’ and boys’ dressing rooms give a strong feeling that this is a professional theater.

The second floor hallway allows viewing of the gym as it passes several multi-media classrooms.  Photography, filmmaking and media-related computer classes permit students to get some professional experience using up-to-date technology.  Final projects will be fine tuned in the production room.

System administrator Ricky Dunn and his crew spent the past week and a half tweaking the technology.  As students filed in, he went from classroom to classroom to make last minute adjustments.

Student School Board Representative Emilia Torres gasped in awe, “It’s beautiful!  Stunning architecture!”  Most students entering first period looked on in quiet wonder as they searched for their new classrooms.  Students quietly worked with computers in their new surroundings.

Assistant Principal Henri Sarlatte explained the rationale for opening the building at the beginning of the fourth quarter rather than waiting for the new school year to begin: This would be an opportunity for everyone to begin working in the new environment for ten weeks.  Teachers and students will have time to discover needs and problems and the school district will have the summer to make improvements.

Community members of Cotati and Rohnert Park, by passing two bonds, made this wonderful project succeed.  At the end of April, there will be a public celebration of this opening, including a ceremony to honor Henry J. Sarlatte, Rancho Cotate’s former teacher and great athletic director.  The Rancho Cotate High School Principal Louis Ganzler announced during the soft opening that the Grand Opening Celebration happens at the high school Apr. 27 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  The community should come out to celebrate what all of the stakeholders have accomplished.