DEL MAR — After years in the making, students, parents and Del Mar Union School District administrators gathered on Friday at the new Pacific Sky School campus to officially celebrate its opening to students for the 2022-23 school year.
The approximately $50 million project, which also involved the purchase of 10.5 acres of land in the Pacific Highlands Ranch community, first broke ground in the summer of 2021. The school was funded by the district’s $186 million bond passed in 2018, known as Measure MM, which also supports the ongoing rebuild of Del Mar Heights School.
Pacific Sky is the Del Mar Union School District’s ninth school, serving families in the northeast area of the district in Pacific Highlands Ranch. The school has a 450-student capacity, with around 350 students enrolled this year.
The site’s opening has been a dream come true for families in the neighborhood who were previously forced to commute around 30 minutes to attend Ashley Falls or Pacific Ranch schools and can now walk or bike to school each day. Over the past four years, many have provided feedback and input on the design and planning process.
“I’m so thrilled for all of us. This school has the fingerprints of this community all over it,” declared board member Gee Wah Mok, who lives in the Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhood.
A crowd of over 100 people, including educational leaders and families, gathered on campus Friday at the end of the school day to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour the school. Students also performed a song and a poem honoring Pacific Sky, their new home school.
The K-6 school is designed to encourage creativity and collaboration, with an open floor plan offering 20 classrooms with indoor and outdoor learning spaces, an innovation center, a performing arts stage, STEAM spaces and the district’s central cafeteria.
Pacific Sky principal Alison Fieberg highlighted the natural light coming through wood-slat ceilings and large windows, various sitting nooks and opportunities for different kinds of learning the campus offers.
“Building a strong sense of community is really important,” Fieberg said. “You’ll see a lot of natural light and access to indoor and outdoor learning spaces throughout the school. Comfort is also really important, so students have choice and agency in their learning.”
Gang Cheng was one of many parents shown around Pacific Sky on Friday by his first-grade daughter, Evelyn. She led him over to her drawing of a hot air balloon, the school’s symbol, reminiscent of the hot air balloons that used to land on the property, hung on the wall alongside those of her classmates.
For Cheng, who participated in the planning process for the school when his daughter was still a baby, seeing Pacific Sky finally open was terrific.
“My wife and I participated at the very beginning — we supported a nice school for the Del Mar district,” he said. “I’m so glad that we actually get to see the results.”
Outside the classrooms, the campus also features a new blacktop area and sports field for students to enjoy. In 2023, a community park will also open on the neighboring property featuring playgrounds, tennis and pickleball courts, a basketball court and a grass field.