Stockton Unified School District
It’s been a half century since a new high school was built in Stockton. After two years of construction, students are walking the halls of Cesar Chavez High. Bob Hensley got a preview several weeks before the doors opened.
Hugo Ramos is the Principal of Cesar Chavez High School. Athletic and energetic, he beams with pride as he shows off the tiled foyer of the three-story, circular administration building that's the centerpiece of the new 200-thousand square foot building. The color scheme in the entry way is black gold and white.
"These are our school colors and we're the Titans. We're the Cesar Chavez High School Titans. "
On this day in late July, construction is still underway. Ramos is clearly excited about getting ready for the new school year in a brand new 50 million dollar building. As he shows off the spacious entry-way, Ramos notes the rest of the facility is constructed to create a small school feeling for students.
" Where administrators, counselors and techs can be out and about with kids. So that kids don't have to come to one location for their services. We give them their services, i.e. guidance counseling or academic counseling or just motivation. We give it to them in their areas of study. "
The layout is based upon the "schools within a school" concept that's been growing in popularity for more than a decade around the country. The goal is to personalize the educational experience in large schools. H-M-C Architects of Sacramento designed Chavez. Architect Dennis Dunston says the layout allows the school to be made up of as many as five smaller sub-schools, each with an assistant principal and support staff.
"Those elements are called either academies or cores. But it tries to break the students up into elements maybe of 250 to 500 and that way the students can relate to teachers better and they can relate to each other better."
The two-story building sits on 50 sprawling acres northeast of Stockton. Nearly every classroom is equipped with brand new computers and AV equipment. Administrators hope the technology will give Chavez students an edge. For example, in the pre-engineering program, students use computers to first design and then make components for something as complicated as an engine or as simple as a piece of furniture.
As for the teachers, they're eager to incorporate technology into their lesson plans. Bill Cook teaches Geology.
" It should make our lives a lot easier in the planning stages. We should be able to put together a lesson plan of whole units, keep them stored on the school's computer and then call them up when we need them."
Of course one of the most important factors in any school these days is security. At Chavez, cameras will blanket the interior and exterior. Principal Ramos says all activity will be documented.
"It's web-based so I can view the camera locations through a computer. You can record things. Now you know when people come on board. You know what car drove in, and if they did something, if they burned rubber."
Ramos is looking forward to the rush of students in the building. Starting today, 14-hundred freshman and sophomores will walk the halls of Cesar Chavez High. The building is designed to accommodate 24-hundred students. It's a number that will easily be reached by 2007 thanks to explosive population growth in the Central Valley.