Monica Stoffal, principal of Buchser Middle School, pointed out the historical homes, mountains and trees in the window view from the top of the stairs in her school’s new two-story building. Stoffal also credited the architects, having researched the ways children learn, for putting the windows of the 10 new classrooms up high “to promote reflective thinking.” Eighth-grade English teacher Susan Ludlum notes that the new airy classrooms have created “a relaxed and calm learning environment.” Inside the new kitchen, food service supervisor Kathy Lunetta identified the new multi-use ovens, pancake griddle, barbeque grill, tilt pots and the room-sized storage spaces, used to prepare school breakfasts and lunches in massive quantities. The new building also has a music classroom, three computer labs and a multipurpose room with a stage.
Distinguished members of the community and the Santa Clara Unified School District took to the new multipurpose room’s stage and shared the school staff’s enthusiasm during the March 9 two-story building dedication ceremony. Speakers included SCUSD board president Albert Gonzalez, community member Bob Buchser (the school is named for Buchser’s father, Emil Buchser), bond projects coordinator Larry Adams and Stoffal.
“I just want to welcome everybody here this morning for a ceremonial inauguration of this building that has been in use now for this year,” said district superintendent Stan Rose in his opening remarks. “If the question is raised whether the Santa Clara community supports its schools, then the answer is an unqualified and resounding ‘yes.'”
“I remember standing across the street [about 12 years ago] on a Sunday afternoon and watching the science building burn down when I was on the board,” said Teresa O’Neill, city councilmember and former school board member, speaking after Rose. “What a scary and sad day that was to see the school building go up in flames. I see this campus as a phoenix rising from the ashes.”
O’Neill was referring to a 2003 fire that destroyed parts of the school.
“At Buchser, there were a science building and two classroom wings built in 1968,” says Adams in an interview after the event. “The science building was completely destroyed in 2003 by fire. We built a new science building and renovated the two adjacent buildings, which were the classroom wings severely damaged in the fire. That was a much earlier project. It was one of the initial projects in the Measure J bond.”
Funds for the two-story building project have also come from the Measure J Bond, which voters passed in 2004. According to Adams, the total budget for the Buchser Gateway Project was $20 million. The project includes work the district will be overseeing this summer to re-landscape Bellomy Street to connect the north and south sides of the campus.
“The two-story building and the multipurpose building together are 41,600 square feet; this replaces an older building we tore down,” Adams says. “We started the design for the two-story building in about 2013…We broke ground in March 2014. We occupied it in August 2015. There was noise during the summer when we did the demolition work. Otherwise it was pretty quiet. It was not very noisy when school was in session.”