Middle schoolers get an enclave

Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees unveiled the Corona del Mar Middle School enclave during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.

The enclave consists of a three-story building with 12 classrooms and a two-story building with a state-of-the-art technology room, four science labs and an office for the middle school principal. It will serve seventh- and eighth-grade students starting in the fall.

The buildings, which were designed with green features to save water and electricity, are separated from one another by a courtyard with plants and tables.

"This is our vision of what a school should look like in today's world," Supt. Fred Navarro said.

Middle and high school students currently intermingle on the campus, which was a cause for concern for many CdM families who wanted a separation, said school board President Karen Yelsey.

She said she was also nervous sending her children to the campus, joking that the parents lived in fear that their kids would be put in trash cans by the older high school students.

"While that never happened, parents continued to be concerned," she said.

The enclave is one of several district projects funded by Measure F, a $282-million bond measure voters approved in 2005, said Paul Reed, deputy superintendent and chief business official.

Middle school Principal Guy Olguin said he's pleased that younger students finally have a place of their own.

Students will take their core curriculum classes, such as math, language arts and science, in the enclave. Electives will continue to be offered on the high school campus.

While the school operated swimmingly with all the students together, the middle school space will provide an identity for the younger students, Olguin said.

"Sometimes they don't let themselves be 11- and 12-year-old kids in front of the older students," he said. "They worry about being cool. I hope they'll be more relaxed socially here."

The district also used Measure F money to fund a theater at CdM.

The theater, which sits adjacent to the enclave, should be completed by November, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

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