Orange Unified breaks ground on first of four new science centers as part of $288 million school bond

Orange Unified School District officials have broken ground on the new science center at Orange High School that will feature a dozen state-of-the-art labs and classrooms aimed at better preparing students for college and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

a line of dignitaries hold shovels over a patch of dirt

Orange Unified School District officials hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for Orange High’s new science lab.

The science center is one of the first projects being built that’s funded through the $288 million Measure S school bond approved by voters in 2016. Measure S will pay for science centers at each of the district’s four high schools, along with dozens of other upgrades, repairs and renovation projects.

About $72 million in Measure S funding will be devoted to the science centers at Orange, Canyon, El Modena and Villa Park high schools. The groundbreaking ceremony at Orange High took place last week. It included school board members, administrators, Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen and other community members.

Orange High School is the oldest of OUSD’s four comprehensive high schools. It opened in 1903 on what today is the Chapman University campus. The school moved to its current location in 1953 and most of the buildings and other facilities on campus have not been renovated or seismically retrofitted during the past 65 years.

The district’s three other high schools are also around a half-century old and have had limited upgrades or repairs since they opened.

rendering of a science classroom

A rendering of one of the new science classroom at Orange High.

School Board President Alexia Deligianni-Brydges said the community united to pass Measure S as more people realized how each of the district’s aging high schools were in need of attention.

“Voters agreed that the time had finally come for a major community investment to be made in our high schools,” Deligianni-Brydges said.

“The passage of Measure S ensured that buildings on all four campuses would be retrofitted, for enhanced structural integrity, safety and security, and modernized to optimize in-class instruction and learning,” she said. “Our 20th-century high schools will begin to be transformed to ensure our students and teachers finally have 21st-century facilities and resources in which to learn and work.”

Groundbreaking ceremonies and the initiation of work at the other high schools is expected to occur later this year and into early 2019. The district is presently working with the schools and their respective project teams to determine an optimal schedule to help minimize construction-related disruptions on campus and in the surrounding communities.