Exploration building and Gold gymnasium coming to Santa Monica High School campus
A groundbreaking ceremony took place recently for the Exploration building and Gold gymnasium at Santa Monica High School. The SMMUSD Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati, Samohi Principal Marae Cruce, SMMUSD and Samohi staff, local elected officials, community members, students and building partners attended the celebration, which took place on August 29.
The Samohi marching band played prior to the start of the event and the Samohi choir kicked off the event with the Star-Spangled Banner. Samohi ASB President Nathan Castanaza and Vice President Egan Waktole welcomed guests and their thoughts about recent and future campus renovations. Other speakers included Dr. Drati, Principal Cruce, Board President Maria Leon-Vazquez and Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton.
The recent groundbreaking comes after the completion of the Discovery building last year and the Innovation building in 2016.
“Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is transforming Samohi in a progressive, cutting-edge campus for 21st-century learning. The Exploration building and Gold gymnasium are the next leaps to engage the whole student through specialized academies, arts, physical education, and athletics. The buildings are planned to open in fall 2024,” District officials said in a press release announcing the groundbreaking.
According to SMMUSD, the Exploration building will initially house three academies that “develop creative and critical thinking and support career pathway by incorporating new technologies within flexible learning spaces. The classes in the building will be centered around integrated project-based learning capstone programs. These include Project Lead the Way engineering, Health, Medicine & Wellness and Law, Public Service & Government. The other side of the Exploration building will contain the visual and media arts studios.
“The new and improved facilities will give our students state-of-the-art spaces that allow them to fully grow and embrace their health, body and mind,” said Carey Upton, Chief Operations Officer. “The design continues our transition from prior buildings featuring boxed-in learning spaces that restrict student creativity to flexible collaborative spaces that adapt to changing teaching and learning methods. This form of innovative design will have open air elements to maximize the use of outdoor space and take advantage of our year-round coastal climate.”
The Gold gymnasium will include a two-court practice gymnasium with pull-out bleachers that can hold 800 attendees. A third auxiliary court will provide an additional facility for basketball and volleyball. The first floor features a yoga room and fitness room, both with outdoor workout areas. On the upper floor will include a new dance studio that will support cheer and dance teams in an environment specifically designed for these programs.
“The new gym spaces will ensure that our physical education teachers and students feel valued as they enter their two new gymnasiums and additional spaces that will further our teaching about healthy lifestyles,” said Dr. Antonio Shelton, former Samohi Principal and current Executive Director, Secondary Schools. “I believe our school community takes pride in the multiple physical education opportunities provided to our students and this is just the beginning of what will become a sports and physical education complex on the Samohi campus.”
The North gym will continue to be the competition gym until it is replaced by the Blue gym in a future phase. While the Gold gymnasium is under construction, the South gym will remain in use.
This project is funded by Measure SMS, overwhelmingly approved by 72 percent of Santa Monica voters in 2018. Construction for phase three is estimated to cost $120 million. HED is the architect and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the builder on this project.