Friday, February 22, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 51

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 8th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 23

Santa Maria High School District breaks ground on long-awaited CTE Center and Ag Farm

By Kasey Bubnash

Shovels in hand, students donning corduroy Future Farmers of America jackets and hard hats giggled as they simultaneously dug into the freshly graded ground and tossed dirt into the air as a small audience snapped photos. 

Behind them, massive yellow backhoes and bulldozers sat still near the newly formed outline of what will soon be the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District's Career Technical Education (CTE) Center and Ag Farm, a nearly $20 million project that has been in the works for years. 

Although construction officially started in June, district officials, students, and community members ceremoniously broke ground on the project on Aug. 6. The facilities and farm, which will sit on 25 acres of land just north of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Grounds, will provide students at all high schools within the district with workshop classrooms, livestock corrals and pens, and farming land.  

Future Farmers of America members from each of the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District’s schools break ground on the district’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Center and Ag Farm on Aug. 6.

"We're creating a state-of-the-art facility that will improve education in our community," Superintendent Mark Richardson said at the event. "Through the development of the facility and subsequent career technical education programs, we're putting the comprehensive back into a comprehensive high school education."

The project, which is expected to be finished by December of 2019, and open to students in August 2020, includes several CTE workshops and classrooms where students will be trained in manufacturing, diesel systems and diagnostics, construction trades, health science, and medical technology. 

A separate CTE pavillion will house a fully equipped commercial teaching kitchen, where the district's culinary arts program will be taught, and a covered patio with removable bleachers. The ag barn will include 15 steer, 32 pig, four sow, and eight goat and sheep pens, surrounded by 7 acres of livestock corrals and 11 acres of farming land.

The CTE Center and Ag Farm, which is being paid for by voter-approved Measure C2004 and Measure H2016 bond funds, is just one of many facility and program improvement projects happening within the district, Richardson said at the event. 

The district, he said, recently opened a 14-classroom building at Santa Maria High School, and is currently developing plans for an almost total renovation of that campus. A new performing arts center recently opened at Pioneer Valley High School, and a 38-classroom building is opening on the Ernest Righetti High School campus later this year. 

Although Jennifer De Leon, an incoming Santa Maria High School senior and president of the Future Farmers of America, will graduate before the CTE Center and Ag Farm opens, she said that she is excited for future ag students to have a designated space for their animals. 

In the past, De Leon said members of the local Future Farmers of America chapter have had to find supportive farmers with extra space willing to house their animals. But with this land, De Leon said her younger siblings will have their own place to keep their animals. 

"This will be the go-to farm," De Leon said.

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