Ocean View School District staff and community members gathered Thursday morning to celebrate the reopening of Westmont Elementary.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony also marked a homecoming for all the administrators, teachers and students who spent the last school year away from the campus at 8251 Heil Ave. in Westminster because of an extensive modernization project.
“In our society today, and as we are preparing students for the future, they need self,” Ocean View Supt. Carol Hansen said of Westmont’s renovations. “They need places that are safe and engaging where they can be creative, where they can be innovative, they can explore and they can collaborate. We need buildings and campuses that are equipped with the most current tools for the staff to ensure that there is optimum achievement for students today and many years to come.”
The work at Westmont Elementary — newly renamed the Westmont Elementary Visual and Performing Arts Academy — is the first in a series of district-wide modernization projects funded by Measure R, a general obligation bond voters approved in 2016.
Hansen said the major modernization project was the first that has taken place on Westmont’s campus, which was built in 1962.
“It’s very exciting to be able to open the doors and show it off but, more importantly, to open the doors on Sept. 4 for our students to enjoy these facilities,” she said.
The main office and classrooms have been renovated and outfitted with new flooring, paint, furniture and equipment.
New fencing and gates also have been installed to increase campus security. Additionally, one of Westmont’s wings has been upgraded and modified to accommodate preschoolers.
Also new to the campus are a lunch shelter, playground equipment, outdoor learning environments and rooms to accommodate dance, band and art. District board President John Briscoe said the dance room is his favorite of the new upgrades.
“Our board is beyond thrilled with today’s ribbon-cutting event and I applaud my fellow board members, our superintendent, our deputy superintendent and our construction team for their collaborative work on this project,” Briscoe said. “We look forward to watching the great things that will take place at Westmont.”
Following the ribbon cutting, community members, teachers and families took tours around campus.
Vivian Hoang, a future Westmont parent, said she went through the Ocean View district herself and she and her family are “super excited” to start school Sept. 4. She added that she felt the school would be a good fit for her son because of his interest in dance and performance.
Ricardo Garcia, an incoming fifth-grader who likes theater, said he was excited about having a bigger performance stage. When asked if he was excited to come back to Westmont after spending a year at the interim campus — Sun View Elementary in Huntington Beach — he said, “Yes.”
"[Westmont’s] better. There’s more things and it’s beautiful: The classrooms, everything, the dance room, the multipurpose room, everything,” he said.
Teachers Kim Robles and Gina Haugh said they were excited about the new facilities and upgrades to their classrooms and equipment.
As a music teacher, Robles said she was thankful for the sound-buffering design of her classroom. She said her space is located near a kindergarten class, so it is important for the walls to block sound from traveling between the two rooms.
Haugh, who teaches a third- and fourth-grade combination class this year, added that she was glad to see the installation of safety measures like the security fences and one-way classroom windows.
Westmont Principal Sue Broderson said she looks forward to seeing her students return to the newly renovated campus on the first day of school.
“Our community has always supported the school district, but ... we have very close ties with the community and they’ve always supported [Westmont],” Broderson said, beaming. “And the comments I’ve heard? They’re still right behind us.”
Ocean View’s next Measure R project is the modernization of College View Elementary in Huntington Beach, which will start this school year.