A new 50-classroom building — standing longer than a football field — at the Santa Maria Valley’s oldest high school campus sends a message about the community’s belief in the value of education, officials said Monday afternoon.
The Santa Maria High School‘s three-story, 88,764 square-foot classroom and administration building officially opened at the start of this school year and relocated the entrance for the campus to Morrison Avenue aiming to end congestion on Broadway.
“This building represents the dedicated and combined efforts of past and present school boards and staff, but most of all it’s a testament to the sound community support for education in the Santa Maria Valley,” said Superintendent Antonio Garcia of the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District. “It’ll benefit students, staff and the community for generations to come.”
The Monday afternoon grand opening event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with student Perla Delgado wielding the oversized scissors as Principal Steve Campbell stood nearby. A representative of Assemblymember Gregg Hart’s office also presented a certificate to commemorate the milestone.
Diana Perez, board president, said school leaders continue working toward transforming the high schools to become models for other school districts in preparing all students for college and career choices.
“It can be done; however, we cannot do it alone,” Perez said. “We will need all of you to continue to support and trust us.”
The building can house 1,800 students at a time, and the school’s population tops 3,000 students, Garcia said.
“This increased permanent classroom capacity will eliminate most of the portables we have here at Santa Maria High School,” Garcia said.
A few portables may remain on campus while modernization of other buildings take place, he added. Among upcoming projects the old administration building off Camino Colegio will be modified to house classrooms.
Modern educational features in the classrooms include large sliding and fixed whiteboards, mounted big screen monitors with the capacity to display the teacher’s tablet screen and other electronics and furniture that can be easily moved into different learning group arrangements.
The new building also allowed addition of staff and visitor parking and provides a student drop-off area off Morrison Avenue that avoids clogging the busy Broadway also known as Highway 135 in front of the campus.
Like a two-story building that opened in 2015, the new facility features Mission-style architecture to match older buildings such as Ethel Pope Auditorium.
“And the back side or the internal face of the building reflects more of the modern contemporary feel for the students while they’re here at school,” Garcia said. “You’ll notice a tower here at the very front that is reminiscent of the original tower from the original Santa Maria High School building and it’s something that the designers wanted to incorporate into the building.
“That tower is the second tallest structure in Santa Maria now,” Garcia added.
Construction, which begin in January 2021, required 837 tons of steel requiring 37 truckloads, he said.
He also noted district staff involved in the project along with contractor Vernon Edwards Construction and architects Huckabee, Inc. (formerly Rachlin Partners).
The $64-million building project was funded by Measure H, passed by school district voters in 2016.
Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, a graduate of Santa Maria High School, said the new building drives home the message of the community’s belief in the importance of education.
“I think the kids also need to know — we think it’s important where you’re educated, what kind of environment you’re in and that we care about our youth in our community,” Patino said.