Villa Park High School unveils new cutting-edge science center

Villa Park High School held a VIP Preview tour of the new STEM Center Building in Orange on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

Just before the start of winter break, administrators in the Orange Unified School District “cut the ribbon” and unwrapped a very large gift for local students — a new state-of-the-art science center at Villa Park High School.

The 47,000-square-foot complex, which was unveiled to district officials and local dignitaries during a ceremony on Dec. 16, features four large chemistry labs, eight standard science labs, two standard classrooms, and a living skills suite for moderate-to-severe special education students. The new facility is expected to open to students in late January.

Funded by Measure S — a $288 million bond approved by local voters in 2016 for campus upgrades and renovations — the campus improvements at Villa Park High School are being completed in two phases. The first phase focused on constructing the two-story science center, which replaced a previous one-story building near the northeast corner of the campus. The second phase will focus on the modernization of existing buildings, including interior remodeling and utility upgrades, as well as traffic flow and access point improvements, according to the district.

“To see our Measure S Phase I projects come to fruition for our students is an incredible thing,” said Orange Unified Superintendent Dr. Gunn Marie Hansen. “This beautiful facility at Villa Park High School stands as a tangible reminder of our mission to, in partnership with our community, provide a safe, equitable, and innovative culture of learning for each scholar to have a competitive edge as a leader.”

But Villa Park is not the first high school in the district to receive facility improvements. Orange High School was the first to open its STEM complex in October 2020, and similar renovation and modernization projects are also underway at Canyon and El Modena high schools. Each school is receiving $72 million for projects including new science centers, career training facilities and special education classrooms.

Ribbon-cutting events for the science centers at Canyon and El Modena High Schools will occur in mid and late January.