Hart District officials tour Castaic High School as construction continues

Future Castaic High School Assistant Principal Sarah Delawder, center, and Principal Melanie Hagman look out of one of the of the classroom windows of the 400A building as construction continues at Castaic High School in Castaic on Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal
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This time next year, thousands of freshmen will be completing their first semester at the Santa Clarita Valley’s newest high school, which is expected to begin its inaugural year in the fall of 2019.

SCV residents have anticipated the completion of Castaic High School for some time now, but come August of next year, the state-of-the-art performing arts center will be the only part of the 250,000-square-foot campus that won’t be in operation yet, according to William S. Hart Union High School District officials.

On Wednesday, Hart District Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht and Chief Administrative Officer Collyn Nielsen gathered with Castaic Principal Melanie Hagman, Assistant Principal Sarah Delawder and project manager Randy Wrage to offer local media members a tour of the work that’s currently underway at the SCV’s newest high school.

While touring the campus huddled in the hills of Castaic, the group described the state-of-the-art buildings and unique programs that will soon be utilized by incoming freshmen.

The library — which developers joke has more glass than all of the Hart District combined — is currently covered in neon green backer board material as construction crews prepare various components of the building for student use, Wrage said.

A similar scene can be found around the school’s prospective freestanding lecture hall, which Wrage referred to as a “super classroom” that will seat around 60 to 70 kids.

“Career technical education is the badge of the school,” Wrage said. In fact, there’s more CTE infrastructure at Castaic than any other local high school.

“The CTE component is one of the many aspects that makes the campus unique,” Engbrecht said, adding that this is especially true once you consider the new iCAN academy and the school’s unique partnership with College of the Canyons.

“iCAN will be very similar to the Academy of the Canyons model,” Hagman said, adding, “The best news is it’s open to enrollment for all students throughout Santa Clarita.”

This means students can expect to get the same robust curriculum that you’d get at all of the Hart District sites, according to Hagman, but unlike AOC, students can participate in extracurricular activities while still completing one to two years’ worth of college credits for free.

Students might even be able to earn a certificate in some of the medical or welding programs, Engbrecht said, before mentioning the district will hold an information meeting for parents in the near future. However, the academy’s application is already on the website along with Castaic High School’s open enrollment application.

“It’s a big deal,” Hagman said, adding that the school’s curriculum isn’t the only draw that’ll bring students to campus.

“One of the things the architect really got right is the campus has a great sense of place,” Wrage said, citing the school’s location in the hills and the helipad area where first responders can set up base to fight disasters that could threaten the local area. “This is a sanctuary. People don’t flock from here, they flock to it.”

As Wrage and the tour’s participants stood on a hill overlooking the bright green football turf and nearly completed classrooms off in the distance, they found it hard to walk away from the beauty of the environment, which offered picturesque views of the surrounding hills, water and sky.

“I’m shocked at how majestic it looks,” said Delawder, the assistant principal who was enjoying one of her first trips out to the construction site of the future school. “The buildings are so aesthetic (and) they look so different. When people see what the school looks like and how different it is, I think they’ll be drawn to it.”

Whether it’s the modern classrooms or state-of-the art programs, students will enjoy their time at Castaic High for a myriad of reasons, Hagman said. “I think it’s really exciting what we have going on here.”


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