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The kids were the stars at the Elm Street School grand opening (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, March 14, 2019

By Chris Frost

chris@tricountysentry.com

 

Oxnard-- The Oxnard School District opened its doors to a new, renovated school, March 9, as the district held its grand opening at the New Elm Street School.

 

The new school replaces the original building that is outdated and old, with new state-of-the-art classrooms for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

 

Joining in the celebration was the Board of Trustees and dignitaries in the district and the school’s principal, Leticia Ramos participated in the party.

 

Superintendent Dr. Cesar Morales said the old school served the community well, but it’s time to move into a 21st-century learning environment with the highest technology and a great set of new furniture.

 

“It’s moveable and adjustable for whatever activity the teacher is doing with the kids,” he said. 

 

“It lends itself to an amazing learning environment.”

 

The district enjoys an excellent community partnership that made the new school happen, he said, and Oxnard supported the district with two bonds, Measure R, a $90 million bond and Measure D, a $143 million bond.

 

“That’s given us the ability to develop a master plan through 2027 and be able to strategically re-construct schools and offer a great learning environment for our students,” he said. 

 

The kids wanted a new space to learn in, Morales said, and freely move around.

 

“I think this new style of furniture is what kids need,” he said. “They should be moving around and working in groups. The era of being in rows and being quiet while the teacher speaks is over. Teachers facilitate the learning process now and get students engaged in a lot of activities.”

 

That means lots of group work, he said, which is what a 21st-century school needs to do to prepare kids for today’s workplace.

 

Morales is thrilled to see the Elm Street community come together.

 

“It’s a close-knit community, and it’s great that we can offer such a beautiful building,” he said. 

 

“It’s a symbol of progress and future success for our students.”

Students moved in over President’s Day weekend, Morales said, and love the new space.

 

“We’re getting a lot of positive feedback,” he said.

 

Trustee Member Denis O’Leary has been on the board for 16 years, and when he first joined there was talk about rejuvenating the South Oxnard schools.

 

“It was scoffed that it would never happen, and nobody cared,” he said. “With this, we are finishing the three schools, Elm, Lemonwood, and Harrington. They are now brand-new schools, fit to be schools, the old schools served their purpose, but they were up to 80 years old.”

 

Moving forward, he wants to improve the product, which means educating the kids.

 

“The bottom line is when a child goes to high school, or hopefully college, they’re not going to be talking about the pretty school they went to; they’re going to be bringing their education with them,” he said.

 

Aleshka Guillen came over from Harrington Elementary School and brought her guitar to play during the celebration. She feels good about participating in the grand opening.

 

“I am part of the guitar and piano squad, and we are going to play a lot of songs,” she said.  “I’m a little nervous.”

 

Rosario Ruesga said she is proud of her niece and told her not to be nervous.

 

“She is not going to be the only one,” she said. “This is great. Aleshka came here for preschool, and it was time.”

 

The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters came out in full force to the celebration, and Special Representative Martin “Mac” McLaughlin couldn’t be happier about the school.

 

“We have 450 members that live here in Oxnard, and they had a 20 percent goal for local hires here,” he said. “Our guys-built 65 percent of this school and they are all local guys, and it is all local money that is staying here in the community. The future looks great here in Oxnard.”   

 

The union has a slogan that says, “We live here and build here.”

 

“We want our community guys to stay in this community,” he said.

 

Councilman Oscar Madrigal teaches at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, and he is jealous.

 

“This is a brand-new school and brand-new technology, so I am envious of the kids,” he said. “I wish I would have got this education as a kid.” 

 

He believes the new school is excellent for Oxnard and young men and women will lead the city into the future.

 

“It makes our community better,” he said.