SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The newest high school campus in the Santa Maria Valley is now officially open.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony held Wednesday morning, the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (SMJUHSD) welcomed local government officials and other area education and business leaders to the gleaming new Career Technical Education Center and Agricultural Farm.
Located adjacent to the Elks Unocal Event Center just outside the Santa Maria city limits, the campus is 25-acres in size and includes a number of new classrooms and other amenities.
"This is a very state-of-the-art facility," said Dr. Jack Garvin, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Board President. "This is one of the very few in the State of California. It's just a wonderful concept."
The campus is now home to the school district's career technical education curriculum, include machine and construction programs.
"I think it's an incredible step forward for us in terms of our students," said Paul Robinson, SMJUHSD Career Technical Education Director. "Right now we have our construction shop running and our machine shop running and those students in the machine shop, getting Allan Hancock credit industry certifications, so they can either continue on at Allan Hancock College, so straight to university with transferable credit, or straight into industry with college credit, and with industry certifications, whether they're going straight into the world of work, off to the junior college or off to the university, we're helping them take that next step in their life."
Next year, the campus will open its diesel and culinary programs, and will later add an agricultural program, as well as another subject still to be determined.
"Our goal here is high skill, high demand, high wage employment, that's what CTE is all about," said Robinson. "That career technical education they're receiving here helps them transition into the world of work or off to earn a more advanced degree at either the junior college or university level."
The new campus serves students in all of the district's four schools, Santa Maria, Righetti, Pioneer Valley and Delta.
It was scheduled to open in August 2020, but was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first students actually arrived earlier this year in August. Currently, there are about 180 students taking classes on the campus. Eventually, it will be able to accomodate nearly 800 students and staff.
"I think it's great," said Pioneer Valley student Casey Mata. "I think our district made a good investment investing in our youth, especially allowing to have access to these programs where students can get real life certifications and real life technical skills."
The new school cost about $26 million and was funded primarily through two community-supported bond measures that passed in 2000 and 2016.