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Hopkins students and faculty to start 2021-22 school year at Lila Bringhurst Elementary School

By News Editors Larry ShiAlina Zeng

As all FUSD schools return to in-person learning this year after 17 months away, Hopkins Junior High students and faculty will not be going back to their usual campus on 600 Driscoll Rd. In early August, Superintendent CJ Cammack announced that students would be taking classes at Lila Bringhurst Elementary School, a temporary campus roughly five miles away from Hopkins for the next semester due to major construction from FUSD’s middle school conversions project. Students and faculty will likely stay there for the rest of the first semester, according to FUSD Superintendent CJ Cammack, though the return date is still up in the air. 

Read the Smoke Signal’s coverage on the middle school conversion from last year here.

In 2014, the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP), adopted by the FUSD Board of Education, outlined more than 50 construction and renovation projects that would take place within the district. This plan prioritized converting all five FUSD junior high schools, including Hopkins, into middle schools to relieve over enrollment in elementary schools amongst other factors.

According to Director of Facilities and Construction Kelle Lynch McMahon, the estimated completion date for Hopkins’ middle school conversion was initially set to be fall 2022, which has since been moved to June 2023. This postponement was largely due to COVID-19 related construction delays and the shorter summer due to FUSD’s calendar shift.

 

Staff members on site help students board buses every morning.

 

When students return to the Hopkins campus in January, construction will likely still be going on, though the crew will work around the school day — after school, during weekends, and on holidays.

Although the move to Lila Bringhurst is not ideal, Director of Secondary Education Zack Larsen said that relocating Hopkins students was necessary. “This way, [the students] can go to a brand new and beautiful school … no one gets in construction workers’ way, and the project can finish as fast as possible.”

Lila Bringhurst was originally built to be an elementary school back in 2019. FUSD had to provide some accommodations to help the junior high students and faculty adapt to the campus. According to Hopkins Principal Corey Brown, kindergarten classes were repurposed for students to store their items during physical education. FUSD is also providing a school bus service to help Hopkins students travel between the Hopkins campus and Lila Bringhurst. “The kids, the families, and the staff have all been supportive and flexible in adapting to the new site and meeting the challenges,” Brown said.

 

Lila Bringhurst Campus

 

“Kids seemed happy to be on campus … everyone looked like they were having a good time,”  FUDTA President Branin Dorsey said.

After construction finishes, Hopkins will have new classrooms, a music room, a new two-story building, a student union and a renovated state-of-the-art multi-use room. Additionally, in response to the new CA COVID-19 safety guidelines, Hopkins will be adding improved classroom technology and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The total estimated budget for the construction at Hopkins is $84 million, with funds coming from Bond Measure E, a $650 million dollar bond to help modernize FUSD schools.

 

Current design plan of Hopkin’s campus.

 

“It is all what a school should be, what our kids deserve to have, and what you deserve to have,” Larsen said.

Despite the changes, Hopkins eighth grader Sanjana Srivatsa believes that this temporary stay at Lila Bringhurst will be beneficial in the long run. “The [eventual] transition into having sixth grade in Hopkins would be better for students, since it will … give them more time to learn from teachers who specialize in their subjects,” Srivatsa said. 


Photos courtesy of HKIT Architects & News Editor Alina Zeng

Cover image by Web Editor Jessica Yu

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