Pacific Ridge opens two new buildings

Pacific Ridge opens two new buildings
The new technology center at Pacific Ridge School opened to students in early January and allows students to explore STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, art and math. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — “Art isn’t easy,” sang the students at Pacific Ridge School, and neither is building a school.

After nearly eight years, the private school on Fuerte Street is finishing the final phases of construction with the opening of the middle school, administration building, and arts and technology center.

The school held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the two new buildings.

“When we first came on here it was a field of dirt,” said Board of Trustees Chair Jay Lichter, “and at that point we looked at the school and somehow sent our kids here but now look at the magic that can happen when a community comes together for a worthy and shared cause, a beautiful campus.”

The Arts and Technology Center is more than 23,000 square feet and has a dance and theater arts studio, 2-D and 3-D art studios, music practice rooms, a community hall and outdoor amphitheater-style seating.

Officials said the technology center reflects the schools commitments to STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Students have been using the building since early January.

Student Council President Christian Potter said the new buildings don’t change the students, but they allow them more room for growth.

“We’re the exact same school, we’re the exact same students with the same excitement for learning and devotion to service that we’ve always been, we just now have more room to do these things,” Potter said.

The middle school and administration building has 11 classrooms, three science labs, a science and observation deck and two faculty workrooms.

Lusardi Construction, gkkworks and Swinerton Builders completed the buildings ahead of schedule.

The final upcoming phase is the construction of a parking lot, which Head of School Bob Ogle said is sorely needed.

At the planning commission meeting eight years ago, Ogle said one of the commissioners told him they would have a parking problem.

“I have to admit, sitting there with an approved plan that had 100 parking spaces and zero enrolled students, I thought to myself, ‘wow, that would be great.’”

All of the community members and parents had to park off campus for the ribbon cutting ceremony and get shuttled to the school, due to a lack of parking.

Ogle said school administrators were given 10 years to build permanent buildings, because the commissioners said, schools often end up “living in modular buildings much longer than they intend.”

“I stand here today grateful to the city of Carlsbad for giving our little school a chance to thrive and thankful to this community for helping us make good on that promise,” Ogle said.

The school now has 527 students ranging from seventh to 12th graders.

The buildings were funded by the Breaking Through Campaign, which had hundreds of individual donors, and contributions from local companies, like Qualcomm and ViaSat and national organizations, like Google and GE.

The Pacific Ridge Jazz ensemble performed a personalized rendition of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home.”

Students also gave a preview of the upcoming play “Pippin” and the Pacific Ridge Vocal Ensemble performed “Putting it Together.”

Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn, Councilman Michael Schumacher and Fire Chief Michael Davis were on hand for the ceremony.

Students thanked the donors and Student Council President Potter said they’re all relieved to no longer have construction noises.

“After months of construction, we (are) whole again,” Potter said. “We finally have our campus back.”

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