Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) opened the new school year on Thursday, Aug. 12 with two new campuses. After nearly 15 years of planning, construction and preparation, SCUSD opened the doors of Abram Agnew Elementary School and Dolores Huerta Middle School.
Representatives from the district, cities of San Jose and Santa Clara, as well as state leaders were all present at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 7. They say, there were many challenges along the way, but it was all worth it.
“Building a school from the ground up is never an easy task and opening two schools during a pandemic, so many times harder. But we’ve persevered through it all,” said SCUSD School Board President Jodi Muirhead.
“It has been a long journey…It’s been ultimately a successful journey,” said State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, who worked on the project in both the State Assembly and State Senate. “Transforming this site to 21st century schools provides that next generation and the generation of Santa Clarans with an outstanding opportunity to advance their education.”
Dolores Huerta, the namesake for the middle school, was also present at the ribbon cutting. She believes the education the students receive today, will help them change society for the better.
“We have so much to make up for our communities of color and immigrants that built this country. We can do it. We can start with our educational system. Our educational system has got to be the healer of our country,” said Huerta. “This is going to be such a great, beautiful place because it is going to be the model for justice and the children that learn here, they’re going to be the leaders that are going to make it happen.”
Shehnaz Wadhwania is the founding principal of Agnew Elementary. Donnel Sonntag is the founding principal at Huerta Middle. Both women have spent the last two years planning for the opening. They say every aspect of both schools from the layouts to the mascots has a purpose.
“The beautiful buildings that you see are part of the vision of creating flexible learning spaces where collaboration can happen anywhere and where learning is not restricted within the four walls of a classroom,” said Wadhwania. “The open, flexible spaces once thought of as a luxury for many of the schools have now become a necessity for us among this pandemic situation. We are confident that these learning spaces will provide safety, security for our students physical and social-emotional well-being and will also provide the intellectual stimulation needed to be experimental and innovative.”
“Because all three schools are on the same 55-acre campus, we felt that it was important to have connected mascots,” said Sonntag. “In order to honor the vision of the original design, we chose birds that can be found in our local, regional and state environments. Our mascots are the Agnew Golden Eagles and the Huerta Hawks.”
Kathleen MacDonald High School is the final campus being built on the property. It is expected to open in the fall of 2022.
Measure H 2010 helped SCUSD secure the funding to purchase the land. Measure H 2014 secured the funds to build the campuses.
All three campuses are located in close proximity to each other on Zanker Road in North San Jose.