There was a lot of fanfare on a dusty lot at the corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Road on Thursday morning. It doesn’t look like much now, but in August 2022 this vast stretch of 58 acres will become Del Oro High School, and it will welcome its first class of freshmen and sophomores.
Though there’s no school yet, there’s a school principal who has begun to set the groundwork for school spirit.
Gail Bentley, currently principal at Foothill High School, worked with students from feeder schools on brainstorming an appropriate mascot and color scheme. On Thursday, she unveiled it to a crowd of local dignitaries and other community members who have been involved in the creation of the new school.
“We would like to welcome you to the home of the Del Oro Suns,” Bentley said.
Bentley said future Del Oro students had the best insights.
“They said, ‘The sun is bright and it’s strong and it provides life. Things grow so we can go to work and live,’” Bentley said. “I really loved that. I thought that was a wonderful way to represent Del Oro High School.”
The school colors will be an earthy, glittery mix: gold, silver and brown. Bentley said that gold was an obvious choice for a high school whose name means gold in Spanish. Silver, she said, represents mixing silver, the way we mix our cultures. Brown represents the area that we live in.
Board President Jeff Flores noted that the name Del Oro means “of the gold” in Spanish.
“It represents the Golden Empire, our pioneering can-do spirit, our limitless possibilities,” said Flores. “Today as we break ground, we celebrate the best of that future: new traditions, new championships, new friendships that will shape the lives of generations to come. Public education is truly thriving and golden in Kern County.”
Del Oro High School will be the 19th high school in the rapidly growing Kern High School District. It was financed with bonds from Measure K.
Bentley said the district has big plans for everything from the academic to athletic programming it can offer to its future students.
“This school is going to be like no other in design, in facilities and in opportunities for students,” Bentley said. “This school is going to break the mold in what we’ve done in Kern High District.”
All of the buildings are centered around a large quad area that will knit the campus together. There’s a 600-seat performing arts center at the entrance of the campus that Bentley said will be important not just for the school but for the community.
On the athletic end, there is a 2,500-seat stadium and three-court gymnasium.
The student center is similar to what you might find on a college campus. It combines the library and cafeteria, but it will have a cafe vibe where students can do homework after school, explained James Krueger, principal designer with HMC Architects.
Angel Hosband, principal on the project, said that collaboration was a big goal in the campus design. Each wing will have its own teachers’ space where they can get together and work on lesson plans.
There is also a lot of flexible space. Bentley said that it will be easy for teachers to head to a lab mid-lesson to do a project. Some rooms will have garage doors that open up to convert into indoor-outdoor space.
“Normally teachers are in their room and they’re isolated all day,” Bentley said. “Teachers will not be isolated. They will be collaborating and moving around.”
And one acre of the campus will be a photovoltaic farm, which will enable the campus to be pretty much off the grid, Krueger said.