500 Lucky Students Will Attend New San Pedro Annex

MY TURN - Coming this August, 500 students will unload from buses that come off Gaffey Street to attend a controversial, but ecologically modernized campus – promising soon to become one of Los Angeles Unified School District’s brightest stars.

Surrounded by educational facilities – such as the Marine Mammal Care Center – the new $80 million campus opens its doors Aug. 14 and will welcome students from San Pedro High’s Marine and Police Academy magnets.

A lottery will be held for an additional 50 seats for San Pedro high school residents at the facility, now called the John M. and Muriel Olguin Campus. They too will be enrolled in one of the smaller learning communities.The campus,  perched atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific,  will also fall under the jurisdiction of San Pedro High and its principal, Jeanette Stevens.

On a recent tour, LAUSD School Board Member Richard Vladovic, who oversees the Harbor Area, was delighted by the school which sits on 28 acres of land on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

“I am impressed,” said Vladovic, whose staff dealt with irritated neighbors who contended the school would cause severe traffic clogging and change the area’s serenity. “This school will facilitate teaching and capture children’s imaginations.

“This will be a classic and San Pedro High will be a classic campus too.”
Stevens, who attended the same tour, said she’s mesmerized by the new high school that was intended to reduce the overcrowded student population at the main school.

“It’s amazing. It’s fabulous,” said a pleased principal Stevens. “It’s a prize for San Pedro. It’s going to elevate our enthusiasm for San Pedro High School. We are going to be rejuvenated by this.

“Our neighbor’s will be proud of their backyard.”
There is much to be proud of. The campus includes eight new buildings and is graced with 30 new classrooms, a competitive swimming pool, a sparkling, fresh gym, with room for 882 visitors to sit on bleachers, an amphitheater with 780 seats, five outdoor basketball courts, one soccer field, a library and a performing arts-multipurpose room.

Three of the building’s rooftops are covered with solar panels to provide energy for the entire school. The floors were constructed from recyclable materials and all the school’s landscape will be drought resistant, said Rick Shirley, the project manager who has helped build nine other LAUSD schools.

“There’s always construction wrinkles to work through,” Shirley said, adding that the neighbors have made few complaints during construction. “This project has gone pretty well.”

In addition, the campus will be graced with low maintenance,  low water landscape with over 200 trees, including 98 coastal oaks, 25 sycamores, 15 Catalina ironwoods and 12 Torrey pines. Shrubs such as Manzanita, dwarf coyote brush and coastal sage will also spruce up the school, Shirley explained.

Neighbors of the campus who were particularly concerned about the school were able to win scores of concessions from the district, including that there should be no night-lighting outside for sports or any access to students off of Alma Street.  Still, there are many happy administrators who will be running programs at the Olguin facility.

“I am so excited for the opportunities that will be available at the Olguin Campus for all San Pedro High School students,” said Sandy Martin-Alvarenga, coordinator for both magnets. “Marine Science Magnet students will benefit in many ways, one in particular is the proximity to the Marine Mammal Care Center and the Oiled Bird Center. This will allow our students the opportunity to see the practical application of their studies.”

Police officer Cynthia Deinstein, who oversees the police academy magnet, considers the move for her students a godsend – especially because the new campus will have an obstacle course and a pool.  Her students, she said, had to compete without the use of such a course against the other LAUSD magnets that had them. San Pedro high did not.

“Like everyone else, I’m very excited,” Deinstein said. “I’m optimistic. We’ll have a pool and an obstacle course and we’ve never had that opportunity before. When competing, we didn’t have that luxury.”

There are also a few perks for the public.  For the first time, the San Pedro High swim team will have a school pool to work out in. Under an agreement between LAUSD and the city of Los Angeles, the pool will be opened to the public and be run by city’s aquatic department.

Harbor College is also expected to hold night classes at the site.

The new campus is also hemmed in by numerous educational facilities that can help students academically. Those include the mammal care center, the International Bird Rescue, the Fort MacArthur Museum along with the Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, which houses many local artists who teach.

Diana Chapman is a CityWatch contributor and has been a writer/journalist for nearly thirty years. She has written for magazines, newspapers and the best-seller series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can reach her at:  [email protected]This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or her website: theunderdogforkids.blogspot.com) –cw



Vol 10 Issue 17

February 28, 2012