The 800 building at Point Loma High School will be demolished beginning later this year as part of the ongoing remodel of the 94-year-old campus. It will be replaced by a three story, 20-classroom building. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
Point Loma High School Principal Hans Becker has read many recent social media comments and realizes some people are upset about the removal of the old Torrey pine trees at the school's Chatsworth Boulevard entrance.
"We all really love the Torrey pines and don't like cutting down trees," Becker said. "But three of them were in pretty bad shape with cracks and diseases so it was determined they had to come down. But they will be replaced with new Torrey pines and other new trees and landscaping throughout the campus.
"We're joining up with a local nonprofit, reclaiming the Torrey pine wood for use in the new media center as a nod to our history," he added.
"These projects have been in the works for more than a dozen years," Becker said. "I think Point Loma High School should represent the best of what the community of Point Loma deserves in a new, beautiful facility where our students can continue to excel and feel Pointer pride just like everyone who passes by the school."
Becker explained the other improvements that will be made to his school.
The largest of those is a new three-story classroom building/media center that will rise along Chatsworth Boulevard where the Torrey pines once stood. It will replace the 800 building, a round, outdated structure that holds the current media center and all of the site's electrical grid, computer networks and telephone system in its basement.
These systems will be moved over summer into a temporary location and must be operational before staff returns to prepare for the upcoming school year. All of these functions will be permanently installed in the new media center including a VoIP (voice over internet phone) protocol system that will be used throughout the school and in every classroom.
With the 800 building slated for demolition in October/November, Becker emphasized students will see no issues with textbook issuing or study space.
"They've moved all the books and computers to Room 402, an oversized room, and they've re-done the entire room, painted and carpeted it, and it will be open for business," he said.
"This (overall campus renovation) is a 30-month process and [contractors] believe they can build the new building in 10 months and have it ready by November or December of 2020," Becker said.
This new building will feature 20 classrooms and the new media center. The building's cost is estimated at $5 million. All work is being financed by Prop. S, Z and YY funds.
PLHS's unique Engineering Department will be housed there.
A project of Becker's, the classes "are designed as a pathway for students directly to top-level universities," he explained. "Students can enroll in four years of engineering classes using digital electronics, coding and hardware. Students finishing the program are already being admitted to such programs."
Almost all classrooms at PLHS have been equipped with current technology, which includes an interactive whiteboard, an audio-visual cabinet, a teacher’s presentation station, a wireless voice amplification system, an advanced-model document camera, a classroom DVD player, a netbook or iPad for each student, and a tablet for each teacher.
"Point Loma will also be secured during the school day," Becker said, "With only one way on and off the campus from Clove Street." as a security measure. All campuses in San Diego Unified have been closed for lunch since 1994, Becker noted.
Alumni, who are concerned about personalized bricks placed in the quad around the Pointer dog statue and along a bench in front of the school, need not be worried, Becker said.
"The quad will be sealed off most of the time," he said. "The district has photographed every brick and will either replace or recast everything. They will be incorporated into the design around the campus.
"The Pointer dog will be put in storage for two years and and have a new home, pointing everyone towards the stadium," he added. "Our hall of fame members will be honored with plaques or tiles set into the new concrete."
And that concrete will add increased aesthetics to the campus.
"They will be using pavers and more durable, stained concrete to give the school a nicer look," Becker revealed.
When the new building opens, the next phase will begin, which includes removing the portable classrooms.
This includes upgrades to the 300 building, installation of visiting spectator seating and a restroom/concession building on the north side of the stadium. The current patch of natural grass at the northeast corner of the stadium will be extended to cover the current basketball courts and provide additional much-needed practice space for Pointer athletes.
Also planned for the stadium is a press box and ADA-required elevator.
For students, the next 30 months will likely see them taking different paths of travel between classes.
"We may have to increase passing time," Becker said. "I appreciate everyone's support as we go through this remodel."