Construction Complete on School's New Student Support Building

IDEA Center High School in El Cajon lost its classrooms to flood damage two years ago, but now students and teachers have a new space to learn and grow

Students at a small school in El Cajon are feeling inspired – and united – as they prepared for the future in renovated classrooms after their old classrooms were damaged by flooding.

IDEA Center High School, located at 1600 N. Cuyamaca Street in the Grossmont Unified School District (GUHSD), held a ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the school’s newly-completed Student Support Services and classroom building.

The $3.7 million project, funded through Proposition U and insurance reimbursement, includes renovations of all classrooms, a new counseling and career center and technology upgrades designed to prepare students for success in college and on the path to their post-high school careers.

Two years ago, the school’s old classrooms were badly damaged by flooding. Since then, students have been learning in temporary, portable classrooms – some of which were located upstairs on campus and some downstairs.

Jenna Marogi, Associated Student Body president of IDEA Center High School, said many students felt separated from one another in those portable classrooms but the new facility is quickly changing that.

“Now that we’re down here – it’s an actual classroom,” Marogi explained. “It’s got this vibe – it’s just a great feeling. It feels like a real high school now.”

With the upgrades, Marogi said it feels as if students are more enthusiastic about learning. She certainly feels that way.

Assistant principal Dawn Cuizon said the excitement from students is palpable as they enjoy their bright, clean, modern classroom building.

“They feel like they’re more together,” Cuizon told NBC 7. “Now they feel more connected because they’re right in front of each other. They get to use this space together. They’re keeping it so clean – they really care about it. They appreciate it.”

Cuizon said the flooding on campus two years ago was a “huge disruption” to students and faculty, who had to quickly adapt to the temporary classrooms. Now, the new facility has created a more comfortable space for students to learn.

“It’s been really wonderful for us,” the assistant principal added.

Construction on the project took five months to complete. Proposition U, passed by East County voters in November 2008, vowed to complete modernizations of all GUHSD schools and provide classroom and equipment for Career Technical Education, as in this case.

A report released last week by the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) said one in seven San Diegans living in the East County in the past five years lived in poverty. In El Cajon, only 35.6 of residents 16 and older and living in poverty are employed.

IDEA Center High School is a small public high school that focuses on integrated curriculum and project-based learning that is heavy on technology. The school serves students in grades nine through twelve, and prepares those students for excellence in both college and their career paths.

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