“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
This is the comment I usually get when I tell people I’m working on the Steering Committee for the New High School in Camarillo. I don’t blame them really. They’ve been talking about building a second high school here since before I moved to Mission Oaks in the fall of 1980–when most of east Camarillo still smelled of citrus blossoms, Adolfo Road didn’t connect Santa Rosa to Lewis and Las Colinas hadn’t been completed. It’s been seven years since the Measure H bond passed and for many parents the dream of their own children attending the beautiful new high school is as battered and faded as the sign sitting next to the library. To so many of those parents it will always be a broken promise…a myth…a fairytale.
Slated to open fall of 2015
I am going out on a limb here and telling you we will have a new high school adjacent to the library…soon. OUHSD has hired an excellent architectural firm with a track record of bringing projects in on time and on budget, all while designing functional learning facilities that are both beautiful and environmentally sustainable. They have also hired a project management firm.
There are definitely a few hoops still left to jump, though. OUHSD needs to get the school site annexed into the City of Camarillo. They are also looking for both civic and corporate partnerships so we can have a larger performing arts center and possibly a full sized gym that can be shared with the community. The good news is the ducks are lining up…if all goes as planned, today’s sixth graders will be able to open the school in 2015.
If you haven’t been following this issue recently, you may not know what is planned for the school. Many people still expect a traditional high school that will serve 2000+ kids with a football team, etc. The truth is–there is not enough funding. There is a lot of debate out there on enrollment numbers. OUHSD just doesn’t show enough enrollment growth for the state to come in and match the Measure H bond funding. So the school is slated to be built in two phases.
Some people feel like we should just take the bond money and make ACHS a bigger and better facility. Maybe they are right, but the board chose not to do that over a year ago and as I say to my six-year old, “that is not one of our choices”.
Lemonade: What we know about Phase 1
Academic Emphasis: Phase 1 facilities are being designed with three academies in mind: Engineering, Bio-Medical Technology, and the Arts (including media, visual, & performing). AP/Honors or equivalent and college prep classes.
Enrollment: We are looking at phase 1 enrollment maxing out at 700-800 students in year three. Students will be enrolled via lottery from the Camarillo and Somis zip codes. Any remaining spots will be open to the rest of OUHSD.
Athletics: There will be no CIF athletics on this campus. However, students will be able to participate in athletics at their “home” school. For most of our kids that means Camarillo High School. Rest assured phase 1 will have at a minimum, a gym like workout room, fields, courts, and a track adequate for PE and extracurricular sporting activities.
Performing Arts Center: We know there will be a performing arts center built in phase one. It is still up in the air as to its size and capacity. OUHSD is actively seeking partnerships in the hopes of creating a 700 seat auditorium. This facility is also slated to include a black box theater, dance studio, music/band room, and TV/media recording studio.
The Whole Ball of Wax: The Final Build Out
The architects are designing Phase 2 alongside the initial build. Phase two includes a double gym, full athletic facilities (including a football field and pool), additional classrooms and labs and other common areas to accommodate approximately 2250 students. If I had a crystal ball I could tell you when this will be built, but I don’t.
We have an amazing opportunity to create an innovative new high school, something beyond traditional, something compelling, a place that our kids will be clambering to walk through the doors of every morning. Ten years ago technology high schools were sprouting up everywhere–this school goes beyond that concept with technology woven into every discipline–much like today’s job market. Project based learning including senior “Capstone” projects and collaborative work will drive the learning processes. Community outreach and parent involvement will also be part of the culture of this school. It will truly be a school of and for the 21st Century and beyond…
- 21st Century Skills Culture at High Tech High – Video 6:25
- Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms – Video 11:41
- Robert C Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts – Facilities, AP Arts, Project Based Learning
and just for kicks and giggles…
- TED Talks: Ken Robinson says schools kill creatively – Video 19:29
In the Press
- January 20, 2012, Camarillo Acorn, “Firm Hired for High School Construction”
- September 23, 20011, Camarillo Acorn, “OUHSD Moves Forward with New High School”
- February 24, 2011 Ventura County Star, “Board Changes Mind, Oks Building a New Camarillo High School”
For More Information
—Kamala Nahas, President La Mariposa PTA 2010-2012
PS: I’ll try not to use so many cliches in my next article.