By JOYELL NIVENS | Uptown News
Hoover Cardinals, get ready. The construction of the school’s front classroom and theater buildings incorporates new technology, copious light, community input, and even a wink to Hoover history. And it’s in the final stages.
The original three buildings have been replaced by a three-story classroom and administrative structure with adjacent theater and outdoor courtyard. The classroom and administrative building construction is approximately 80% complete, and the theater is about 65% complete, according to Balfour Beatty Construction Superintendent Wayne Kibbe.
“We’re gaining speed now,” Kibbe declared.
Come this fall, the drop-off point for students should be at the new classroom and administrative building. It is 46,000 square feet and will hold 20 classrooms. That’s enough for each of the teachers in trailers outside to get their own classroom, and a few extra, too.
The first floor is for student services, counselors, and administrative staff. It will also include two new spaces: a college career center and a parent center. The parent center will serve as both a lobby and meeting space for parents and guardians.
“We have a very active parent group and we want to respect that,” Principal Jason Babineau said. “We wanted to provide a space for them to mobilize and come together.”
The centers and the 25 administrative offices are all separated, not by walls and doors, but mainly by storefront glass.
“It’s not closed-door, so you can see in,” explained San Diego Unified School District Construction Manager Rick Mortazavi. “We wanted to be more transparent.”
Although the classrooms still are surrounded by walls and protected by key fobs, they have giant double-pane windows on one side. Those at the back of the building get a view of the mountains and that famous red mascot. Those at the front have sunshades to allow light but which also prevent an excess amount of heat from direct sunlight.
The classrooms also contain a 1-21 technology suite, including smartboards and plenty of electric and USB outlets. One of the four walls is a combination of dry-erase paint and tackboard, giving the teachers plenty of space for decoration and classroom use.
To be more energy efficient, the overhead LED lights are equipped with motion and light sensors. The sensors are also linked to temperature — no bodies in the room, less air or heat being pumped out.
The final upgrade in the classrooms is the amount of space — they have all gotten larger. While the minimum state requirement is about 960 square feet, the classrooms are each around 1,000 square feet.
The tower is back
One of Hoover High’s former favorite traditions was the signing in the tower. Up until the 1970s, graduating seniors would climb up to the top of the tower to sign a graduation book which commemorated their high school career, according to the Hoover Alumni Organization, which referred to it as a “huge piece of the Hoover experience.” The tower had to be taken down in 1974.
Now, the “tower” is making a comeback. However, while the new classroom facility will have a tower same in look and design, for safety reasons the tower will not be accessible to students. Instead, the designers put a skylight in the room directly below the tower. So, the students can look up into the tower if they so choose.
“It’s a light to the beacon of knowledge,” Kibbe stated tongue-in-cheek.
A professional theater space
Next door, the auditorium is also getting a facelift. The new theater has seating for up to 500, built with an accelerated slope. That means that instead of a gradual, steady increase, the back half of the seating is raised significantly higher, giving viewers a better visual of the stage. Spherical wood clouds on the ceiling help hide the catwalk and produce better acoustics.
On the stage itself, the ceiling stands 55 feet overhead, leaving plenty of room for moving sets. There is also a pit between the stage and seating that can be used as an orchestra pit, extra seating, or an extension of the stage.
The theater space is also equipped with stage lighting booths on either side and at the back, a wheelchair lift, and roll-up doors. The doors are tied into the fire alarm system, so they can make an air-tight corridor in case of disaster.
Roll-up doors make another appearance in one of the drama classrooms, connecting it to an outside amphitheater. The sound system in the classroom is designed so if the students want to do an outdoor performance, they can.
On the back half of the building, there is a dress room electrically wired for lighted vanities, a green screen newsroom, all-gender restroom, and a scene shop. The district plans to rent out the space for professional use as well, and there is possibility of faculty collaboration to produce future Hoover musicals.
The future is (almost) here
Babineau began his position at Hoover High at the same time the construction did — one of his first tasks was to preside over the demolition of the first building. Since then, he and the faculty and students have watched this project take shape, and the excitement as it comes into fruition is almost palpable.
Phase two will focus on landscaping, eventually spanning and connecting the gap between the new front and former back buildings. But before then, the students will get to experience state-of-the-art facilities and an invigorated campus. The goal is when the students come back to school after summer break, they enter into a brand-new façade.
“It’s a façade that truly represents how awesome our students are,” said Babineau. “It’s a mirror of our kids.”
According to Babineau, these new facilities will reflect well the student body they house.
“I see Hoover students as scholars who are working to make themselves proud, who are working to create new opportunities for themselves and their families,” Babineau enthused. “They are courageous, brave, and committed to excellence.”
Hoover High School is located at 4474 El Cajon Blvd. and is open during construction. For more information, visit sandiegounified.org/schools/hoover, or call 619-344-4500.