Sacramento High School Science Center on Target for 2020 Debut

By Lisa Kopochinski

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Earlier this year, the San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD) in Sacramento, Calif. held a ceremonial groundbreaking for Mira Loma High School’s new $26.4 million generation science wing. Mira Loma High is an award-winning International Baccalaureate (IB) school.

SJUSD faculty, students and the surrounding community, with architect firm Lionakis, and DPR Construction, general contractor on the project, dug into the staff parking lot with their golden shovels and hard hats to commence the construction of this highly anticipated building.

Construction management firm ICS is overseeing the project in conjunction with San Juan Unified staff.

The two-story science center—which is being funded by Measure N—will span approximately 32,000 square feet and include next-generation biology, chemistry, physics and earth science classrooms, as well as a flexible learning space and outdoor learning environment. The new building will replace the existing science labs from the 1960s, in support of a campus that boasts a nationally ranked Science Olympiad team and a rigorous International Baccalaureate program.

The project will include the installation of rooftop and carport-style photovoltaics. The use of dynamic glass for shading and security concerns is part of the program, as is the concept of “science on display” where the building is also used as a teaching tool and an opportunity to share science concepts throughout.

Hundreds of students, staff and community members also signed their name onto a steel beam that will be installed onto the frame of the new building.

“I think it’s nice that we get to sign this beam, and then all the students will have their name in this building forever,” said Mira Loma sophomore Andy Chittenden.

Frank Camarda, San Juan Unified Assistant Superintendent of Facilities, Maintenance and Transportation, said the building is on track to open by August 2020, in time for the next school year.

“It’s really exciting to see the project come to life. We’ve spent a lot of time doing sitework, so this part, where you see the vertical construction is really exciting.”

Added Science Department Chair James Hill, “It really is a great thing for our campus to actually see it being built.”

The signed steel beam is the final piece that will be installed and will be celebrated by the construction crew with what is known as a “topping out ceremony” where it will be swung into place with an American Flag attached to it.