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Big expansion ahead for elite Orange County arts high school

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A well-known arts hub for 7 to 12th graders in Santa Ana is about to get bigger. Construction is underway on a new $20 million instructional center at the Orange County School of the Arts.

The school, which started in 1987 as a small after-school program, now draws its 2,000 students from across the state. Its acceptance rate is about 15 percent.

Officials said the new 60,000 square-foot building will house 14 dance studios, seven science labs and practice space for music and choir students. It'll replace two existing structures on campus. 

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"Our students deserve an enhanced campus environment that matches the commitment and passion they bring to OCSA," Ralph Opacic, the school's founder and executive director, said in a written statement.

The school began raising money for the project about a year ago and officials said it's received half the money, $10 million. Marybelle and S. Paul Musco, well-known art and education philanthropists in Orange County, Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom and Martha and James Newkirk are among the contributors.

Officials said construction will take about a year.

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