Monday, August 13, 2012

San Pedro High Annex Opens Tuesday

New San Pedro High annex opens to students today.
Jessica (left) and Natalie Martin, 17

As the $80 Million San Pedro High Annex Opens Its Doors Tuesday, Students Getting Treated to the Brand New Package Face The Change With Uncertainty

By Diana L. Chapman

    Students leaving behind 75-year-old San Pedro High to attend its new $80 million annex at Angel's Gate which officially opens today say they have faced a myriad of emotions leaving their flagship school.
   Introduced with great fanfare at a dedication ceremony last week, the John M. and Muriel Olguin Campus -- which was built to relieve overcrowding at San Pedro --  has some students saying they are nervous, scared and delighted all at same time to attend the $80 million facility at the Upper Fort MacArthur Reservation, The state-of-the-art-campus comes complete with ocean breezes, a competitive swimming pool, a gymnasium and a 780-seat amphitheater.
   Two twins who will finish there as seniors offer opposing perspectives.
  "I have never been in a school that's so nice and privileged," said Jessica Martin, 17. "I definitely feel sorry it's only for a certain amount of kids and I feel we are being segregated. Some of our magnet kids already have big heads and this is going to make them bigger."
  Natalie Martin, Jessica's twin, thinks differently.  While she believes it will be challenging -- especially shuttling back and forth for classes between the two schools -- she likes change.
  "I did enjoy San Pedro High, but I welcome the change," she said. "I like this school. It's eco-friendly. This school is open and beautiful and colorful. I feel I deserve to be here. I worked hard for it in my classes. I did extracurricular activities."
  Jessica and her sister are part of the San Pedro High's Marine Magnet, which was relocated to the new campus along with the Police Academy -- both mini-houses so to speak that draw from across the Los Angeles Unified district. Officials believed it was the best way to equalize education at the new facility perched in one of San Pedro's most affluent enclaves. Those two houses brought in about 460 students. Another 40 San Pedro area students were picked via lottery.
   San Pedro High will continue to act -- as the mother ship -- and students at the new campus will have to shuttle back and forth to pick up advance placement classes at the larger school. In addition, the San Pedro High swim team and other athletes will likely end up at the new campus for work outs and training.
   It will be the first time in its history that the high school swim team has ever had its own pool.
   San Pedro High Principal Jeanette Stevens, who will oversee both campuses, views both facilities as treasures that only enhances the programs the school has now.
  "Our new campus is a wonderful opportunity for us to continue to thrive," Stevens said. "Not only are we one school, we have a variety of opportunities for our sports programs to excel through additional play space and workout facilities."
    Los Angeles Unified School Board Member Richard Vladovic, who oversees this region, said in a statement: "The new facility promises to provide our community with a first-class educational experience in a new campus with access to numerous opportunities for years to come."
    While students worry about schedules and shuttling between schools, teacher Jennifer Ritz said with any new school there will be blips in the chart.
   "Every good system has to go through a period of trial and error," said Ritz, a world and advanced placement history teacher who said she too will miss the flagship campus. "But it's on everyone's minds to have as few errors as possible. Everything that's successful takes time."
    A mother and daughter team who were touring the school a few days ago were pleased -- even though the daughter initially didn't want to leave San Pedro High. Mother Carolyn Johnson, a teacher at White Point Elementary, said she was pleased with the school and seeing even the "plant manager light up" when he was talking with students.
   "Even though there's inconvenience and transition, I'm excited for her," Johnson said of her daughter, Maureen "Mo," 17, a competitive rower. "It's new and exciting and it has a new energy."
   Mo, a senior, explained that she was leaving behind half of her friends at the larger school, but had come to terms with that.
Cadet Jose Hernandez (left) and Cadet Jeremy Garcia, both 17 
   Several Police Academy seniors said they hope the new campus will put them on better footing than their old high school where they often were embarrassed to wear their uniforms and believed other students considered them less than equals.
  For once, "It's more like our school," said Cadet Jeremy J. Garcia, 17, also a senior. "We'll be able to do a lot more. We'll have our own field. Our own obstacle course. We'll even have our own role call room. Before we were just sideliners."
    Cadet Jose Hernandez, 17, "At our old school, other kids were like: "You are not part of us." It was awkward just going in your uniform. It's just a stereotype that we're not smart. "
   That could change things, which makes Manny Ortega, a 16-year-old cadet from Gardena happy.
  "It's so exciting, "said Ortega, who couldn't quit smiling. "I'm ready to come back to school."