Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New school a testament to high-tech

New school a testament to high-tech
Christian High preps for opening
By Ryan Chalk
Article Launched: 08/20/2008

Crews put the finishing touches on the parking lot outside the new Vacaville Christian High School facility. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

Vacaville Christian High School administrators and staff have always taken pride in the quality of education they provide for their students, but starting this school year, they can finally say they have a facility to match.

Anyone driving down Marshall Road these days will notice that where there was once an aging mobile home park, now stands a new, state-of-the-art high school and football stadium.

But it is what you don't see on the outside that is most impressive. The roughly 40,000-square-foot, two-story building will accommodate 500 high school students and is outfitted with the latest in technology.

Vacaville Christian High School's new campus features an up- to-date computer lab, as well as science labs. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

"This building lacks for nothing in terms of technology," said Chief Education Officer Paul Harrell. "It's all here. It's not going to hold anyone back."

Not only are classrooms outfitted with computers, but at VCS, gone are the days of writing on chalkboards or dry erase boards. Now teachers have SMART Boards, a touch-sensitive whiteboard that allows you to control computer applications directly from the display. Also included in the building are updated science and computer labs.

"For the first time, our facilities match the quality and caliber of our students and faculty," said Harrell. "When you match the three legs of that stool, facilities, students and faculty, there's no limit to where you can go."

If you don't get the impression that Harrell is bursting with excitement over the new digs, walk upstairs to Donna-Marie MacWay's math classroom which offers a picturesque view of the new stadium.

"I can't tell you how much I believe that I have the best room," said MacWay as she joked that she'll be selling tickets to watch the football games from her classroom. "There is not a word in the English language to express this joy."

Soccer practice takes place Monday at Vacaville Christian High School's new stadium, which features artificial turf. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

Just as impressive as the new building for the high school is the new stadium, featuring Field Turf, an all-weather artificial surface used not just for the football field, but baseball and soccer as well. And gone are the dark days of the noisy gas-generated stadium lights. The new stadium offers up brighter, permanent lighting to go with increased capacity stands, which will be in high demand as VCS defends its Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII football title.

"Some people think that Christian education means second class, second rate," said Harrell. "But when 98 to 100 percent of your graduating seniors go on to college, this fits."

What has many faculty members and staff at VCS surprised is the blazing speed at which the school was built. It was an outpouring of support for a $16 million bond which paid for the new school and stadium to be constructed in a year's time.

And there is still room to grow. A new gymnasium and more classrooms will be added in the future, according to Harrell, although no time frame has been given.

Among other changes at VCS, Chris Smith, who fills the role of athletic director and head football coach, is stepping in as principal after serving as the assistant principal. He can sum up the new challenge in one word - hectic.

"It has been hectic," said Smith. "But we have such a great support staff and faulty here so they're making the transition pretty smooth."

And if anyone knows the inadequacies of the former stadium it is Smith, who despite breathing the fumes from the gas-fueled lights nearly every Friday night during football season, still coached his team to a section title.

"It's night and day," said Smith about the new facility. "This is truly a tremendous blessing for our students and fans to have such a great surface to play on."