By Eric Althoff
SOMERTON, Ariz.―General contracting firm McCarthy Building Companies has delivered for the Yuma Union High School District (YUHSD) the new Somerton High School, now welcoming its inaugural class. The $68 million project, which has been planned since 2019, is the seventh high school for the YUHSD. Prior to this project, Somerton was the largest city in the Grand Canyon State without its own high school.
As designed by DLR Group, Somerton High School’s campus puts particular focus on classrooms for career and technical education (CTE) programs such as welding, sports medicine, engineering, robotics, law enforcement and culinary arts. Other career-preparation courses may be added in the future, the school announced.
DLR Group’s design also incorporates Somerton’s proximity to the Colorado River Delta, whose alluvial system is part of a mechanism that provides water throughout the Southwest. The campus offers a shaded outdoor courtyard—a forward-thinking notion in this very hot region—at the heart of the campus that is meant to call to mind the river system.
The 150,000-square-foot, four-building campus is home to nearly 2,000 students. In addition to classrooms, Somerton’s campus houses a 358-seat cafeteria as well as 432 outdoor dining seats and a snack bar. A black box-style theater, media center, choir room, band room, special educational classrooms and laboratory classrooms are all on offer.
The high school’s auxiliary gym seats 193 people, and also has a weight training room. Outdoors, the football stadium can seat 500 spectators; there is also a baseball field, softball field and tennis courts.
Ongoing supply chain issues addressed by McCarthy personnel included replacing back-order steel tresses with treated wooden trusses instead in some areas—while moving the installation of those steel tresses that did arrive until much later in the schedule for the cafeteria and media center. Thus the project schedule was maintained without delays.
“The design for this high school was inspired by the strong agricultural community in Somerton as well as the nationally recognized CTE programs at YUHSD,” Carmen Wyckoff, DLR Group principal and K-12 education leader, said of Somerton’s completion. “This facility will have an immediate impact on the legacy the Somerton High students will leave in their community.”
Added John Kovesdy, project manager with McCarthy Building Companies: “We had our challenges throughout the project, but nothing was going to stop the team from opening Somerton High School. We all knew how important it is to our community.
“We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to help create this landmark in Somerton.”
McCarthy and DLR Group’s partners included Arizona Verde Fire Protection, Delta Diversified Enterprises, Yuma Valley Contractors and Arizona Window Coverings.
“The realization of Somerton High School is an incredible mix of joy, pride and gratitude,” YUHSD Superintendent Tim Brienza said of the school construction completion. “Decades after being discussed, the community has this incredible facility to provide the backdrop of graduating EVERY student college, career and community prepared.”