Sisters Rebecca and Gabriela Guevara were trying to keep their nerves and excitement in check Wednesday while they waited for their first-period class to begin at Rancho Campana High School, the Oxnard Union High School District’s new $77-million hightech campus in Camarillo.
“I’m really excited,” said 15-year-old Rebecca, a sophomore. “Yeah, it’s awesome,” agreed Gabriela, 13, a freshman.
“All the technology is really cool,” said Rebecca, who is aiming for a career in the entertainment industry. “It’s going to give us a sense of what the newest technologies are out there and all the new industries.”
A rush to build the school began with a groundbreaking in March 2014.
About three weeks before the school’s opening day, work was still going on inside several buildings, parking lots were unpaved and furniture had not yet been placed in classrooms.
As students and parents trickled through Rancho Campana’s front gates on opening day, Sept. 2, construction crews were still working on the school’s arts and entertainment academy building, which isn’t expected to open until March.
Outside, a few yellow-vested workers were sweeping remnants of dirt from sidewalks and driveways. But classrooms, administrative offices, the cafeteria and student quad areas were ready for the new school’s students, Principal Roger Adams said.
“We made it!” Adams said, sporting a huge grin. “We’re ready to go.”
“It’s a pretty big day—a brand new school for Camarillo,” parent Lourdes Guzman said as her daughter Jacqueline, 13, wandered off to meet up with some friends. “And it’s a beautiful school.”
Culminating a process that began when voters in the district passed a $135-million bond measure in 2004 to build two new high schools, Rancho Campana’s new state-of-the-art facilities and its career-track curriculum are closer to what might be found at a small, modern college campus than at a traditional high school, Adams said.
Students at Rancho Campana will pick one of several career pathways offered at the school’s three learning academies—applied engineering; health sciences, which includes medical and biological professions; and the arts and entertainment academy.
They’ll be able to take advanced placement courses while in high school and earn college credits. Students also will gain real-world experience through internship and mentoring partnerships with community and business leaders.
Completely wired for Wi-Fi access, Rancho Campana features classrooms equipped with 80-inch monitors, computer workstations, interactive white boards and other state-ofthe art equipment.
Every student will receive a new 13-inch laptop computer.
“Frankly, some universities wish they had these types of facilities,” Adams said.
Despite all the high-tech, the first day of classes for Rancho Campana’s approximately 300 students—150 each in ninth and 10th grades—began with an oldfashioned pancake breakfast.
“What’s happening is this is a time for the students to socialize and get to know each other,” Adams said, stopping here and there to chat with groups of students and their parents.
“In about 10 minutes, we’ll call them to their classrooms, the parents will leave, and shortly after that, the teachers will escort the students out to the field for a group photo,” he said
“One of our teachers is going to fly a drone overhead and take an aerial shot.”
The drone will be one of several high-tech learning tools available to students enrolled in the applied engineering academy, Adams said.
All of Rancho Campana’s students would be spending the next three days “getting to know how our systems work,” Adams said.
That includes Rancho Campana’s online learning programs and other essential information students will need for a successful school year.
“Over the next three days, we have just a whole wealth of different things that are going to be covered, from college requirements and what they are going to need to do in order to fulfill them to our computer literacy program,” he said.
Sophomore Stephanie Chit, who transferred from Adolfo Camarillo High to Rancho Campana and enrolled in the school’s arts academy, was eagerly looking forward to a new school.
“I’m actually really excited about it,” Stephanie said. “Everything is completely new.”