CARLSBAD — Pacific Ridge School solidified its position in Carlsbad as a leader in academics, service and sustainability with the dedication of its first permanent school building on Aug. 31.
More than 800 people attended the event to welcome the newly constructed building into the school’s tight-knit community. The ceremony celebrated how far the school has come since first opening in Carlsbad’s Bressi Ranch neighborhood just three years ago.
“This is a high school that embodies the spirit and ideals of Pacific Ridge,” Rick Sapp, board of trustees chair. “Take it — fill it with your passion and dreams.”
Funded through the school’s “Breaking New Ground” campaign, Pacific Ridge’s newest addition is one of the first school buildings in the nation to receive the GOLD Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification.
The state-of-the-art facility was designed to optimize use of natural light, passive ventilation and onsite solar power. Recycled construction materials were used throughout the building process to minimize impact on the environment.
“It’s amazing; it really envelops the school’s vision statement of sustainability,” 16-year-old junior Elle Lichter said. “It makes the dream that we’ve always had come true.”
One of the building’s most unique features — three garage-like roll-up doors — separate a large indoor reading area from an outdoor courtyard. Four top-of-the-line science labs will bring biology, chemistry and physics to life for every student.
Nineteen classrooms were specifically constructed to better suit the school’s signature teaching style — the Harkness method. Classes are held around a table, instead of seated at desks, to encourage discussion in a smaller student to teacher ratio.
“I’m so excited about the Harkness method,” newcomer Andrea Watson, 16, said. Her family recently relocated to North County and she will enter Pacific Ridge School as a junior. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in math and science classes.”
Pacific Ridge School encourages students to take an active role in the classroom through open discussion and challenging coursework. Students also learn to be strong citizens on both a local and global level.
Approximately 350 students from sixth through 12th grade are currently enrolled at Pacific Ridge. The new facility has a maximum capacity of about 500, which the school expects to meet in just a few years, said spokesperson Caroline Calloway.
“Pacific Ridge has a comfort that gives us confidence to take risks and challenges,” senior and student council president Daniel Hines said during the ceremony. To his fellow students, he declared, “The real construction begins now.”