SDUHSD tour shows off coming attractions

San Dieguito Union High School District parents and board members got a preview of all the exciting things to come at district schools on a Prop AA tour on Oct. 5. Guests traveled by yellow school bus to Earl Warren Middle School, Torrey Pines High School and San Dieguito and Canyon Crest Academies to see a variety of campus construction projects, all made possible by the $449 bond initiative passed by voters in 2012.

The tour started at what Interim SDUHSD Superintendent Eric Dill said was perhaps the most exciting project in the district: the brand new Earl Warren campus in Solana Beach, converting one of the district’s oldest schools into its newest school.

Work underway at Earl Warren
Work underway at Earl Warren (Karen Billing)

The $42 million project is right on schedule, set to welcome students in fall 2017. Next week the board will consider an amendment to add solar to the new campus.

As construction on the beachy new campus has been underway, students have attended school in the temporary Seahawk Village interim campus, which Dill said has been very successful. The district has entered a partnership with Solana Beach School District that should its general obligation bond — the $105 million Prop JJ — pass in November, the interim campus would house Skyline School students as their school is built across Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

Just as Earl Warren students have embraced the interim campus, so have San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA) students. As construction on a new 22-classroom building is underway, the tour showed how students have taken ownership of the construction walls around the developing campus, painting murals and adding decorations such as flower boxes to the windows that offer a glimpse of the work underway.

“They have added their own artistic flair to the construction,” said SDA Principal Bjorn Paige. “They see it as an installation piece.”

San Dieguito students added a flower box to a window in the construction wall.
San Dieguito students added a flower box to a window in the construction wall. (Karen Billing)

The $20 million building replaces what Paige jokingly referred to as “Soviet-era bunkers,” offering new science and math classrooms by the fall of 2017. Once that construction is complete, work will begin on a second, 33-classroom building on the southeast side of the campus, this one creating new spaces for English, social science and art studios.

At Canyon Crest Academy in the district’s south end, the tour saw how work is moving along quickly on “Building B,” the new 14-classroom building at the front of the campus. The $18 million project, a combination of Prop AA and Mello Roos funding, began at the beginning of the summer and was a reflection of the extra space needed due to the growth of Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhoods.

At Torrey Pines High School, Principal Rob Coppo led visitors into the school’s 13 brand new science classrooms, reconfigured in what had been an “old, dark hallway” that is now filled with natural light. The new classrooms offer a bright, open design with mobile tables and comfortable chairs in a “more collegiate environment.”

“It’s an amazing retrofit,” said Coppo, a 1986 graduate of Torrey Pines. “I remember taking French across the hallway.”

The new Torrey Pines entrance under construction
The new Torrey Pines entrance under construction (Karen Billing)

The new learning commons/media center is currently under construction at Torrey Pines and is set to open in January. A new entry for the front of the school off Del Mar Heights Road is also currently in the works. The next phase, starting in the summer of 2017, will be to create the new visual and culinary arts building at Torrey Pines, as well as the long-awaited new proscenium theater and new black box theater. Demolition is expected to begin shortly after graduation with an anticipated opening of fall 2019.

As the tour ended, Dill said there are plenty of exciting Prop AA projects still to come, particularly in the north end of the district where Oak Crest and Diegueno Middle School will be the recipients of new science classrooms.

“It just shows what we can do when the community comes together and supports our schools,” Dill said.

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