Virtual groundbreaking held for Solana Vista rebuild

Solana Beach School District board clerk Gaylin Allbaugh helped break ground at Solana Vista.

The Solana Beach School District held a groundbreaking for Solana Vista School on June 10, waving goodbye to a much-loved 50-year-old campus.

Over 100 people tuned in to attend the first-ever Zoom groundbreaking —earlier in the week board members and staff respected social distancing guidelines and dug into the earth ceremoniously while construction activity began at the school on the hill on Santa Victoria the last week of May.

The new school is set to open in August 2021 for kindergarten through third grade students. SBSD President Julie Union thanked the community for backing the Measure JJ bond in 2016 that has led to campus modernizations and reconstructions like Skyline and Solana Vista possible over the last four years.

SBSD board member Dana King breaks ground on the new Solana Vista. Both of his children attended the school.

“Solana Vista is the heart of the community and the neighborhood. The fields are at the center of recreational sports that brings kids of all ages and families together,” Union said. “We all can’t wait to see the completion knowing this special school will serve students for decades.”

As part of the virtual ceremony, a video gave students a chance to say goodbye to some of their favorite places at Solana Vista: the KIVA, the garden, the classrooms, the sand hippo and the monkey bars.

“I’m sorry that our school broke down but I will have a new school,” said one student; “Thank you for being such a lovely school for me,” said another. One student sweetly sang the Solana Vista school song: “I get a happy feeling here at my school.”

SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said that it’s not so much of a “Goodbye Solana Vista” but rather an “Until we meet again” in the new campus.

“We’ve often heard that home is where the heart is and for students and staff, schools become our second homes. We consider this our extended family with our friends and our colleagues,” Brentlinger said. “It is important to remember that while we are reconstructing the school—the outer shell— the heart of the school community remains alive, beating bountifully, strong and healthy, until we all come back together again.”

Solana Vista was constructed back in 1971, before Solana Beach became a city. As Principal Katie Zimmer noted, many families have watched generations pass through the community school’s doors: The Ortega family saw Carlos (class of 1976), Felicia (class of 1998), CT (2001), Selena (2004) and Amelia (2007) all attend Solana Vista and now little Leila is part of the third grade class of 2022.

“Each child has that been part of the Solana Vista family is part of the legacy that our building leaves behind,” Zimmer said.

The $40 million reconstruction project was able to start early due to the COVD-19 school closures. Solana Vista staff and students identified school artifacts to keep that were removed prior to demolition, such as murals, student artwork, Kiva wood, and the “Buddy Bench.”

During the 14-month construction by Erickson Hall, students will be temporarily housed at Skyline and Solana Highlands Schools.