Danville Express

Newsfront - August 24, 2007

Class of 2010 opens Dougherty Valley High School

Classes begin Monday for entire school district

by Jordan M. Doronila

Hundreds of students in the San Ramon Valley can start making their mark next week when they begin to attend Dougherty Valley High School, a brand new, state-of-the-art, $150 million facility.

"They just need to take ownership," said Denise Hibbard, Dougherty Valley High School's new principal. "They have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of firsts."

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District will be opening its two new schools, Dougherty Valley and Live Oak Elementary, tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 25. Dougherty Valley's grand opening will be at 2:30 p.m. at 10550 Albion Road in San Ramon and the community is invited to take part.

All district schools, including Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley high schools, will start their new scholastic year Monday, Aug. 27.

Live Oak's opening will begin at 11:30 a.m. on 5151 Sherwood Way, also in San Ramon. Both Dougherty Valley and Live Oak are in Windemere Ranch, San Ramon's master-planned community comprising residential homes, parks, shopping and schools.

Dougherty Valley, which serves grades 9 through 12, is the first high school to open in the district in 34 years. Approximately 500-600 freshmen and sophomores will be attending this year. A total of 95 students are transferring into Dougherty Valley from other high schools in the district. Monte Vista had 51; San Ramon Valley, four; Cal High, 38; and Venture, two, said Tina Perault, senior planning and development manager for the district.

Most of the freshmen at Dougherty Valley are coming from Windemere Ranch Middle School.

"I'm very excited to open a new high school," said Hibbard, a former assistant principal at California High.

Dougherty Valley High is 300,315 square feet and is on approximately 54 acres. There are 11 major buildings, which include four two-story classroom buildings, a career tech facility, library and commons building, performing arts center, administration building, two gymnasiums and an aquatic center. The school can accommodate up to 2,200 students.

The aquatic center has a 50-meter Olympic pool and locker facilities. The school also has a 2,000-seat stadium and an all-weather track, two baseball fields, two softball fields and eight lighted tennis courts. The main gymnasium has 1,300 seats. And the performing arts center has a 600-seat theater, vocal and instrumental and rehearsal rooms. The school mascot is the "Wildcats."

There are currently 160 staff members. This year, high school staff will include 30 teachers, 44 coaches, 18 support employees, one counselor and two administrators. The average class size ratio is 28 to 1.

Dougherty Valley High was designed and constructed in an agreement between the school district, the city of San Ramon and two Dougherty Valley developers, Windemere BLC and Shapell Industries. Windemere BLC is a consortium between Brookfield Homes, Lennar Communities and Centax Homes.

The two developers jointly funded all aspects of the design and construction of Dougherty Valley. The costs also included technology, library books and equipment. The high school site was dedicated by Windemere BLC.

Negotiations between the district and the developers regarding the school's development began in 2001. The school was built in two stages. One stage involved site grading, utilities and paving; and the other involved buildings, landscaping and ball fields. Stage one was completed in January 2006; and stage two was scheduled to be finished by August 2007.

Hibbard said she held orientations for freshmen and sophomores earlier this week. She noted that making the transition from their previous schools to a new one is going to be difficult for them. They had already developed strong friendships and a comfort level at their previous schools.

Parents and children have expressed discomfort in past school board meetings about leaving their current high schools to attend Dougherty Valley because of the bonds they had formed with friends.

"They are transitioning," Hibbard said. "High school is a huge experience for them."

Nonetheless, she said she has seen incoming students look in awe at the new Dougherty Valley. She said her incoming students have the opportunity to forge new cultures and activities. Dougherty Valley will have its first graduating class in June 2010.

"We have a rare opportunity," she said.

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com

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