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New Poway area school brings more opportunity

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A new high school in the Poway Unified School District opened its doors Aug. 20.

Del Norte High School is the fifth high school in the district. The $104.5 million facility can house approximately 2,250 students.

“There are a lot of folks (in the community) that have been waiting for this school for a long time,” said Greg Mizel, school principal. He added that taxpayers in the Poway school district "couldn’t be more happy" to see the high school open.

The home of the Del Norte Nighthawks is a 212,200-square-foot campus, which sits on 62 acres of land just south of Camino Del Norte and west of 4S Ranch Parkway.

The campus comprises more than 20 buildings with 48 standard classrooms, 12 science labs, five art labs, two music classrooms, five special education classrooms, one drama classroom, 11 vocational education classrooms/labs, and one ASB classroom. The school's performing arts theater and facility can seat 330 people and has all the latest in theater technology.

There also is a state-of-the-art library with windows that virtually eliminate the need for light fixtures, thus reducing energy consumption. The library is the focal point of the campus.

The sports facilities are impressive as well and include a swimming pool, tennis courts, a track and field area and a gymnasium to host pep rallies and the school's basketball and volleyball teams.

All the sporting facilities were constructed to CIF standards to host county- and state-wide championships.

Del Norte, which was designed by NTD Architects and built by Barnhart Inc., has a circular plane blueprint. This means that all the buildings and sports facilities are centered around a courtyard to give the school a more unified feel, according to Mizel.

“We want our students and faculty to feel a sense of interconnection,” he said.

The school’s vision for students, according to Mizel, is to evoke passion, support college readiness, instill future focus, and increase global awareness.

One example of the school's vision for students is the implementation of the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, which will be the first in the school district.

The school initially will enroll 530 freshmen and 260 sophomores for its first year.

The campus was completed in two years. Through the redesign of certain areas, Del Norte was completed about $2.1 million under budget. A redesign of the lunch shelter saved more than $100,000.

“Engineers and architects have good concepts, but sometimes the process of putting it together in reality is different than on paper,” said Mike Derouin, vice president and senior project manager. He added that the subcontractors working on the school made it possible to save money in various areas.

In addition to saving money, subcontractors had to meet regularly with the general contractor and others involved with the project regarding safety issues.

Del Norte High School features a school-wide data and multimedia networking system, which will allow every work station on campus to access a central database in order to share software or access the Internet. The entire campus has Wi-Fi access.

Del Norte is designed under the Collaborative for High Performance Schools program, which provides green and sustainable practices.

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