Roll-up classroom doors, solar panels, outdoor labs: inside San Diego Unified’s first Mission Valley School

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The San Diego Unified School District on Thursday introduced its first new school in seven years, a campus named after a historic Native village and one of the latest examples of the district’s multibillion-dollar school bond program to work. .

Nipaquay Elementary, which opened this fall in the Civita development in Mission Valley, is the district’s first new school since Salk Elementary opened in Mira Mesa in 2015. On Thursday, district officials celebrated the opening of the school and organized a campus tour.

The $58 million school, built largely with money from taxpayers’ Proposition Z bonds on land the district bought for $12 million, sits next to Civita Park near Friars Road and Interstate 805.

Last year, the San Diego Unified Council voted to name the school after an indigenous Kumeyaay village that existed in the region long before Spanish colonization. The name Nipaquay translates to “our other home,” officials said.

The school was built to serve the children who are among the 50,000 new inhabitants planned for Mission Valley as the area continues to grow into one of San Diego’s largest communities that incorporates housing, retail, public parks and more.

It’s a life opportunity largely reserved for the wealthy – three-bedroom condos in Civita currently cost over $1 million in development and apartments near Nipaquay start at $2,700 per month for a studio. .

It was a stipulation of the family of Franklin Grant, who had owned the land that would become Civita for about a century, that the development include a new school, said Alan Grant, one of Franklin Grant’s descendants.

The school currently has 188 students in transitional kindergarten through second grade and enrollment is already exceeding original projections, principal Michael Goodbody said. The school will add a level each year until it reaches fifth grade, and it was expected to enroll about 500 students by then.

Nipaquay Elementary is one of the largest recent projects to emerge from San Diego Unified’s $8.3 billion school bond program. Since 2008, the district has managed to get voters to approve three compulsory education measures to modernize campuses and build new ones.

The district hopes to secure a fourth bond measure in next week’s general election, the U measure of $3.2 billionto replace a bond measure that expires this year.

The school, which was designed by local architecture firm domusstudio, is meant to be modern and attractive, comfortable and pleasant, and provide spaces more conducive to learning than those in traditional classrooms, officials said. .

“We wanted this to be a next-generation, proof-of-concept school,” said Lee Dulgeroff, director of facilities, planning and construction for San Diego Unified.

The campus was designed to make generous use of San Diego’s weather by mixing indoor and outdoor spaces, Dulgeroff said.

Each classroom has a transparent wall that rolls up like a garage door and opens to an outdoor classroom that features a long stone table with a built-in sink, which can be used for labs and other activities. The multi-purpose room on campus has two glass walls that roll up to make the space open to the sky. Solar panels cover the roofs of the buildings and supply the campus with electricity.

The campus has several brightly colored and shaded play structures, including separate play areas for transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten students. People who go up to the second floor of the main classroom building can see the campus quad amid sweeping views of luxury homes and apartments and green spaces. Also on the second floor are built-in containers to hold a school garden.

Particular attention was paid to lighting and sound inside the rooms, Dulgeroff said. Rather than the fluorescent lights often seen in traditional classrooms, Nipaquay’s rooms have bright geometric halos of light and large windows and doors that let in natural light.

Classrooms have high ceilings, adorned with turquoise blue hexagonal acoustic panels, which work with the carpet to minimize echoes and outside noise – which is particularly important for students learning English and for students in education specialized, Dulgeroff said.

The campus was designed to encourage group work and physical flexibility, according to Dulgeroff. The desks can be adjusted in height and linked together so that students can collaborate. Classrooms have partitions that can be removed to combine classes.

The school’s library, which Dulgeroff prefers to call a “learning common,” features a circular couch, as well as wooden tables and benches placed on casters to encourage group work.

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