by Austin Corpuz
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in We’Ced Youth Magazine Issue #2
In North Merced, located along G Street and just past Mercy Hospital lies a new high school under construction called El Capitan. The campus is situated in a growing community of Merced. Currently 70% completed, it is on schedule to be finished on June 10th 2013.
Named after Merced High School’s original name before 1963, El Capitain’s orginal school mascot is now again the official school mascot, the Gau- chos. The school colors will be North Carolina blue, with a Vegas gold tint. Bernard Construction, the general contractor for El Capitan, started constructing the new high school on June 10th 2011 with a contract of $76 million. The entire budget to build El Capitan is around $90 million.
The 250,000-square-foot campus, relatively larger than Golden Valley’s 190,000-square-foot campus, is the first school of this design in the district. El Capitan features nine buildings, all two stories tall, and a total of 82 classrooms. The school has a brick exterior. Stairways are the main route from floor to floor, and the campus will have a total of five elevators. This school is not indoors, however the buildings makes the school feel compact without feeling cramped. El Capitan will initially be a closed campus, having its campus gated along the edges like Merced High.
Travis Kirk, Capital Facilities Project Manager for the district, explains that El Capitan is very energy-efficient compared to other campuses in the district, with sunshades to allow light control and roofs that absorb heat with air-conditioning for insulation.
[pullquote_right]The two gymnasiums and weight rooms are located across the quad. There’s a championship gym that holds up to 1,400 people seated and another slightly smaller gym right next to it. The city has already signed a Joint Use Agreement with the district to open up the gym and select other spaces for community use during non-instructional hours.[/pullquote_right]
The quad is two football fields in length, with the 9 Building surrounding the perimeter. The quad was planned to resemble a park with pathways for students to walk across with planters and greenery throughout. Important rooms that usually hold a large amount of students, such as the cafeteria, library and computer room are located on the first floor. One end of the quad houses a band room and theater room, the latter room can hold up to 400 people. A green room is also located nearby.
The two gymnasiums and weight rooms are located across the quad. There’s a championship gym that holds up to 1,400 people seated and another slightly smaller gym right next to it. The city has already signed a Joint Use Agreement with the district to open up the gym and select other spaces for community use during non-instructional hours.
A major aspect that separates El Capitan from the other high schools in the district is how 21st century technology impacted the development of the new high school. After signing a contract, each student will receive a Google Chromebook to borrow for the entire school year. Students also have an option to bring his or her own devices. There will not be any textbooks. As a result, there will not be any student lockers on campus.
El Capitan is extensively networked with data wires running around the school, with over 100 wireless access points for Wi-Fi. Projectors will be placed in classrooms instead of interactive whiteboards, which the district eschewed when they realized students weren’t utilizing them as much as originally thought. Inside classrooms, teachers will be able to wirelessly connect all student laptops for learning purposes. Even the library in El Capitan is adapting to the 21st century. Most of the books will be fiction, since it’s the most popular genre of books that students read.