El Capitan High School unveils new physical education building

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When El Capitan High School students play on the sand volleyball court, organize in the team rooms, do resistance training in the new weight room or have a pick up game on one of the new eight outdoor basketball courts, they’ll be enjoying it too much to consider how it all happened. At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, August 29th, everyone who was a part of the received the well-deserved acknowledgment and celebrated the success of the project, the new Physical Education building followed by a much anticipated tour of the whole facility.

When El Capitan High School students play on the sand volleyball court, organize in the team rooms, do resistance training in the new weight room or have a pick up game on one of the new eight outdoor basketball courts, they’ll be enjoying it too much to consider how it all happened. At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, August 29th, everyone who was a part of the received the well-deserved acknowledgment and celebrated the success of the project, the new Physical Education building followed by a much anticipated tour of the whole facility.

With the passing of the Proposition U bond back in 2008, projects like this aren’t out of reach, and are expected to make a difference in learning environments for many generations of students. The ECHS Physical Education Building project was a vision that El Capitan High School/Grossmont Union High School District Project Manager Dena Johnson shared with ECHS Principal Laura Whitaker and MSF (Manager of School Facilities) Michele Storton. They believed it was high time the fifty-five year old physical education facilities received an upgrade. 

What an upgrade it turned out to be; new boys and girls locker rooms, showers, a Wrestling/Aerobics room, a Fitness/Weight room – rooms that can accommodate gymnastics, cheer, dance, and testing. There are also team rooms, training rooms, coaches offices in addition to the outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts, with new shade structures between them. 

The project didn’t stop there. One of the most important things that Johnson wanted to do was reposition the fire lane.

“The fire lanes used to go down the center of the campus, so the kids were always crossing the fire lane. Now we’ve routed it around the outside the campus so they have a safe path to travel,” Johnson said. She also made sure there were more accessible public bathrooms.

“Anyone attending to an ECHS sporting events will consider this a great improvement. The school’s administration offices will look down onto the new physical education building and basketball courts. “Admin looks down now, they can see all this now. It really opened up our campus,” said Johnson.

After the vision came the planning and execution. The thirteen month long construction came at a cost of nearly $6.5 million dollars. Architect Jennette LaQuire of the national firm Harley Ellis Devereaux happened to be an ECHS alumni, which gave the project a more personal appeal.

“When you get to stand in this space, it’s wonderful. I’m looking forward to the courts going in because that will finish out the plaza,” said LaQuire.

The outdoor basketball courts have an expected completion date in October.

During the ceremony, ECHS Athletic Director Sandy Martinez began her speech by stating “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which, she explained, means “A healthy mind and a healthy body.”

Martinez went on to say that the physical education department was for both recreational and competitive purposes. Children, she said, are the greatest gift and the greatest gift we can give to them is, “Respect and opportunity. Our commitment here at El Capitan High School is to the scholar and the athlete.”

Senior quarterback Brad Cagle and Governing Board President of the GUHSD Rob Shield closed out the ceremony before Cagle cut the ribbon.

“Everything about this is great. The weight room we have is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Cagle.

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