New home for math at Vaca High

National Mortgage News

| New home for math at Vaca High

It was a mammoth and desired present ready to use after the Christmas holidays.

Vacaville High School students, teachers, support staff and administrators ushered in the new year with a newly built $9 million, 15-classroom mathematics building, part of Vacaville Unified’s continuing districtwide campus upgrades under Measure A.

The two-story structure, which opened Monday when classes resumed, further enhances the West Monte Vista school — one of the district’s oldest at 66 years — coming five months after completion of the campus’ new and similar English building.

Jennifer Leonard, the district public information officer, noted Thursday that the total budget for the school’s upgrades will eventually top $47 million of the bond measure’s $194 million in available funds. The especially good news was, for the district and taxpayers, the new math building was on time and under budget by nearly $2 million, she added.

Over the past year or so, other major projects at the school have included relocation and expansion of tennis courts, expansion of student, faculty and visitor parking lots, a new softball field, and technology upgrades, Leonard, standing on the second floor of the math building, pointed out. As she spoke, with nearby hills treetops, easily seen in the distance, construction workers busied themselves remodeling the school’s medical science classrooms and building and construction trades classrooms.

In room M5, calculus teacher Chris Fickes, who earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Davis, helped students during a 30-minute schoolwide study hall called PAWS. The topic of the day in most of his classes was indefinite integrals.

Meanwhile, sophomore Maguire Riley, 15, was at his desk preparing for a test about quadratic equations. Like some of the other 25 students in classroom, the space was not so new to him, since Fickes was the only math teacher on campus whose last-semester room was in the new English building.

Still, he was impressed with its novelty and freshness.

“When we came in here on Monday, it felt like the first day of school,” Riley said.

A few doors down, Steve Morgan, who teaches Integrated 1 mathematics, also helped students, some of them reviewing videos found at the Khan Academy website, at

Senior Golden Pryor, 18, contrasted the new, high-tech classroom with the one he was in last semester, an aging portable, room T14, near the gymnasium.

“I was blown away,” he said of the new room and building, adding, “I love the smartboard,” an interactive whiteboard that allows a user to touch it to move information or mouse-click in the same way as a personal computer user can.


“It’s definitely a step up from the old building,” said Pryor, who is also enrolled in the school’s AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which tries to prepare students, especially those underrepresented in higher education, for college. “We had issues with the heater and air conditioning. It’s beautiful and everything works.”

To Morgan, who also serves as an AVID teacher, the new classroom, in a new location, has energized him.

“It definitely feels like a bit of a renewal,” he said, admitting that he is still trying to master the technology of a 21st-century American public school classroom.

Of the latest gleaming addition to the school, Principal Ed Santopadre, standing outside of Morgan’s room, said: “I think the part that I’m most excited about is, what’s happened in less than two years. In less than two years, we have two new classroom buildings, two new quads, two new parking lots, a new softball field and new tennis courts and all the new landscaping that goes with it. It’s been a lot of work in a short time.”

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