NIPOMO – Officials cut the ribbon on a brand new, technology-focused high school today (Aug. 9). Doors will open, bells will ring and the first 9th graders will arrive and start learning next Monday.
The ribbon-cutting drew a number of elected officials from throughout San Luis Obispo County, including Supervisors Paul Teixeira and Adam Hill.
Jim Hogeboom, president of the Lucia Mar Unified School District, thanked those who helped make the school possible including PG&E, the school’s largest donor. Principal Dan Neff spoke of his vision for the students who will attend the school in the years to come.
Tom Jones, a PG&E director of government relations based in San Luis Obispo, was among those cutting the ribbon.
The event also included student-led tours, a barbecue and other activities.
One of the school’s buildings, Gen 7, is a good example of how learning will extend beyond what’s said and shown in class. Gen 7 features solar panels and smart teaching boards. Students will be able to keep track of their work over the four years at the school via digital resume portfolios. About 125 freshmen will enter the school this year with plans to have 500 students by 2015.
The school will join a growing network of technology high schools nationwide. There are now 85 schools in 16 states in the New Tech Network. Studies show that graduations rates in 2010 were 95 percent for New Tech schools vs. 69 percent for public high schools nationwide.
The Lucia Mar Unified School District in San Luis Obispo County launched the non-profit Lucia Mar Foundation for Innovation in 2010 to help raise funds to build the school. PG&E contributed to that foundation.
In January, a ground-breaking ceremony was held. PG&E President Chris Johns and Ezra Garrett, the company’s vice president of community relations, were among those lifting shovels of dirt at the event.
At that event, Johns looked over the crowd at the dedication and declared it “a truly rewarding day.” He said PG&E was proud to be involved in such an innovative school, especially at a time when most districts are scaling back on school construction.
Supporting education in the communities where it provides energy is important to PG&E. The company funds Solar Schools Bright Ideas grants, and recently named Jim DeCecco of nearby Oceano Elementary School as the PG&E Solar Schools Inspirational Educator of the Year. PG&E helped create five New Energy Academies at high schools in Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, Berkeley and Sacramento. And it handed out $1 million in Bright Minds college scholarships earlier this year.