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Vista High School Opens Building S - a High Tech Haven for Learning

Board Trustee Mr. Vargas, Principal Mrs. Ratliff, and Director of Transformation Dr. Chagala touring Building S.

When Vista USD classes resumed on January 10th, 2024 students at Vista High School were finally able to enjoy the brand-new Building S at the front of the school campus facing Bobier Dr. The new building houses the school’s English department, with 18 classrooms that also include spaces for several special education classes.

Building S is the result of the district’s Measure LL bond which has funded almost two dozen projects across the district, upgrading spaces and removing aging portable classrooms. 






A Space For Every Student

The decision to have the English department in the new building was intentional. “Every Vista High student takes English in each of their four years,” explains VHS Principal Megan Ratliff. “So this way every student can experience and enjoy the new structure. We wanted to have our entire community included and this was the way to do that.”

In addition to the classes inside, Building S also has several flexible outdoor spaces that can be accessed for both classes and out-of-class time. Teachers are already reserving the outdoor spaces for their classes and the area is well-populated during lunch and other break times.

The upgrades are particularly personal to English teacher Melissa Cotter, who attended Vista High as a student herself.

“I think I have a unique perspective because I'm an alumnus from here,” she explains. “I graduated Vista High School in 2001, so from the perspective of being a teacher here now and having been a student before, to have something that's brand new is pretty magical.”

New Technology to Empower Learning

The new classrooms are equipped with the latest sound and dimmer lighting technology, allowing teachers to create a variety of learning environments. The spaces also include a plentiful number of outlets for charging devices like chrome books, as well as wrap-around whiteboards designed to help students project presentations more effectively. 

Cotter welcomes the fact that the new space also allows teachers to create a learning space that is more comfortable and inviting for students. “It’s a sense of, ‘this could be a space that you could create in your home’. Before, things sometimes felt temporary because you knew you were going to move from classroom to classroom.”

The overall configuration of Building S lends itself to a more conducive learning environment, explains Cotter, and the new setup has strengthened the connection and support between teachers. “Having the English department classrooms so close in proximity has allowed for a lot more calibration and collaboration of what we do. Being able to pop into each other's room or just experience what's happening in another teacher's classroom is really, really powerful to the teaching process.”

When the building opened the faculty took time to counsel students about what it means to be in such a new space and how they can help maintain it and feel pride of ownership; clearly, that process has paid off. “I have noticed a level of care that maybe wouldn't have been there if it were just your typical old building,” smiles Cotter.

She and her department emphasize how special and historic it is to be the first to experience the new space, which she admits could be a little overwhelming. “It's the first new building in many years, and so during the lead-up, I think there was a lot of anticipation. 

“Our community hasn't seen something like this in a long time, if ever. I think students were really impressed but also intrigued about having the opportunity to be in a space like this that feels very collegiate.”

Student Responses

“It’s definitely a new experience and unlike anything at Vista. It takes learning to a whole new level and unlocks many possibilities.” Classmate Diego Flores Hernandez’s thoughts illustrate the main aim of the project: “It makes me feel like the school does care about my learning.”

-Tenth-grade student, Maddi Strang

Fellow tenth grader Vanessa Mercado loves “the smell of fresh furniture” and says her favorite parts about the new building are the heating and light-dimming additions. When asked what the new facility brings to her learning, she says, “It keeps me much more relaxed which helps in my focus.”

As for the new outdoor area designed to encourage a flexible teaching option, Cotter says many teachers and kids are enjoying the opportunity for group projects where they can spread out on tables and utilize the new extended learning space. 

“A lot of our students are capitalizing on it during break time and lunchtime. It's really cool to see them be so respectful of the space and clean up after themselves. I think they enjoy that it’s a nice, calm, and quiet space for them.”

Another new and bigger building, Building T, will open on the Vista High School campus at the start of the 2024-25 school year as the Measure LL improvements continue.