Ribbon cutting ceremony at San Marcos High School
Paul Wellman

The eight moldy, asbestos-ridden portable classrooms on the San Marcos High School campus that used to grace passing motorists on Hollister Avenue have been replaced by a new wing of eight state-of-the-art classrooms and a shiny new gateway. San Marcos principal Ed Behrens said that the “B Wing’” addition makes the school look on the outside how its community members feel about it on the inside.

Now the inside of the school ain’t so bad either. Step into the classrooms, four of which will house the Health Careers Academy, and you’ll find swanky new lab spaces with model skeletons to which students can attach clay in order to learn how muscles interact with bones. A three-quarter-scale body revealing all of the human organs alone costs $6,000.

Health teacher Rich Ceriale in his remodeled classroom at San Marcos High School
Paul Wellman

Along with the new space, a new course in kinesiology will be offered. The 11-year-old Health Careers Academy prepares students for professions in the medical field with a nine-course track beginning in the 10th grade. It also integrates an internship and dual enrollment with SBCC so that students can receive their nursing assistant certifications by Christmas of their senior year.

Aspiring nurses who graduate the academy also receive the added perk of leapfrogging the wait list to enter the nursing program at City College. Emily Wheeler, who is taking advantage of that benefit and will begin SBCC this fall, was on hand at the ribbon-cutting ceremony with her father Layne, president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association.

Funded by Bond Measure Q, the construction at San Marcos also included important updating to the school’s electrical and drainage systems and cost a total of $7.4 million. The beauty of the new project, however, contrasts with some of the school system’s older facilities. While district officials gathered at San Marcos, teachers elsewhere were wiping the dust off of decades-old desks and booting up near-obsolete computers as they prepared for students to return to class on Monday.


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