Campus changes in La Jolla will welcome students, Monday: New start time is 8:35 a.m. for some

When students return from summer vacation, Aug. 26, construction projects will still be underway at La Jolla High School. The overall work is set to be complete in February 2021.
(Light File)

When the return bells ring for San Diego’s public schools on Monday, Aug. 26, La Jolla students can expect changes to their campuses, school staff and programs. Most notably, at La Jolla High School and Muirlands Middle School, the bells will ring at 8:35 a.m., following an extensive campaign by parents for a “healthier” start time.

Previously, La Jolla High started at 7:25 a.m., and Muirlands at 7:30 a.m. The hour later start is part of a pilot program, but if all goes well, it will continue. The Muirlands day will end at 3:15 p.m. and La Jolla High’s at 3:16 p.m.

“We strongly believe that this will have a substantial positive impact on all aspects of our students’ lives,” read an excerpt from a letter by principals Charles Podhorsky (La Jolla High) and Geof Martin (Muirlands).

“Over the next several months, our staff (administrative, academic and athletic) will be working to ensure this transition will be a seamless one for our students and community. We know that major changes require adjustments on all our parts, so we hope over the next five months, everyone will have enough time to make proper preparations at home to ensure that the introduction of Healthy Start goes smoothly.”

When it comes to traffic patterns, there are predicted changes along Nautilus Street, which serves as a drop-off and pick-up path for both schools.

La Jolla High School, 750 Nautilus St.

In addition to a later start time, the high school is in the midst of a multi-year renovation project. Work underway includes a new campus entrance next to Building 200 with gates and ornamental fencing, exterior painting of all buildings, repairs and improvements to interiors and systems, renovated walkways, new drinking fountains and security fencing.

Interior improvements include converting Building 800A into lab classrooms, and remodeling the science building and lab classrooms in Building 700. There will also be renovations in the food service area, the girls locker rooms, and Building 500 restrooms and exterior finishes. Other repairs and upgrades (conducted as needed) will include Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC); plumbing; sewer lines and electrical systems.

The overall work is set to be complete in February 2021. Opened in 1922, La Jolla High is San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) second oldest campus. Enrollment hovers around 1,500 students.

While acknowledging that “construction is sometimes disruptive,” SDUSD representatives said: “The project team is working closely with the school to minimize the impacts to the surrounding community.”

Inquiries for what is being done to minimize the construction site impacts to students were not answered by deadline.

More information can be found at:

La Jolla Elementary School, 1111 Marine St.

In addition to principal Stephanie Hasselbrink, who will start her first full year since her appointment earlier this year, several new educators will be on site to promote “standards-based, rigorous curriculum and instruction within safe, collaborative, inclusive environments,” she said.

New part-time teachers include PE teacher Brandon McClintock and education specialist Malia Lovell.

“This year, La Jolla Elementary will participate in professional development and receive coaching from educational consultant and author Dr. Richard Villa, and professor emerita at California State University San Marcos Dr. Jacqueline Thousand in the areas of inclusion, co-teaching, collaborative planning, personalized instruction, and the roles and responsibilities of educators, interventionists and para-educators,” Hasselbrink told the Light. “We are excited to have this opportunity to learn and grow in order to meet the needs of all of our diverse learners.”

She added the school will continue to develop its Social-Emotional Learning curriculum.

“Our lessons will focus on self-regulation, effective communication and self-advocacy, integrity and personal responsibility, empathy, and appreciating diversity and inclusivity,” she explained. “We will also host parent workshops from positivity psychologist Dr. Susan Wais at each of our three elementary schools, and Laine Lipsky, a parent educator, will also offer a series of parent workshops at La Jolla Elementary, which will be open to parents across the cluster.”

Bird Rock Elementary School, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave.

In addition to becoming a STEAM school through a SDUSD pilot program, Bird Rock Elementary’s campus will see other changes.

First, said principal Andi Frost, the joint-use field on campus is being renovated and is scheduled to open to the public the first week of September.

“The City closed the field this summer, but when it reopens, our students can safely enjoy the benefits of this incredible partnership during school-dedicated hours,” she said. “Before school and immediately after school, our community will be able to reap the benefits of a clean, safe park, too!”

Furthermore, she added, SDUSD is installing three water bottle-filling stations on campus, adding air conditioning in November (after afternoon dismissal) and wireless networks with supporting electronics.

This will also be the first year in which Bird Rock Elementary will participate in the SDUSD STEAM Initiative. The program looks to create a transitional kindergarten through 12th grade pathway of scientific understanding, based on skills that will be needed when these students leave high school and enter the high-skill job market. Curriculum was developed to be implemented in one-hour lessons, four days a week, to introduce scientific concepts in the youngest grades and build upon them to 12th grade.

Torrey Pines Elementary School, 8350 Cliffridge Ave.

Building off its existing 4 U Squad and Diversity Club, Torrey Pines Elementary will partner with SDUSD to become a designated “No Place for Hate” school.

“Parents and students in our Diversity Club are partnering with SDUSD Youth Advocacy Project resource teacher Mick Rabin to promote tolerance and social consciousness on campus through three anti-bullying activities and commitment to the ‘No Place for Hate’ pledge this fall,” principal Nona Richard told the Light.

Torrey Pines will also partner with the Center for World Music to offer eight-week dance and theater rotations focusing on world cultures; and with the YMCA across the street to offer swim, golfing, lacrosse, volleyball, basketball and gymnastics via the Y’s La Jolla facility.

There is also a new second-grade teacher: Kim Nguyen. “She comes to us from EB Scripps Elementary and her own child attended kindergarten at our school,” Richard said.

“This year, teachers will continue to work in Professional Learning Communities, but will now be asked to set classroom and grade-level proficiency goals in English language arts and math. The principal will meet with teachers one-to-one in the classroom monthly to monitor student progress.”

Muirlands Middle School, 1056 Nautilus St.

Principal Martin did not respond to the Light’s request for comment by press deadline.

COMING NEXT WEEK: What’s new on La Jolla’s private school campuses for this academic year.