March 06, 2017
It’s what happens inside a classroom that counts, but the classroom itself can certainly make a big difference.
This fall, about 450 students at Roseland University Prep in Santa Rosa, Calif., will move into a brand new 31,000-square-foot school built by Alten Construction, a full-service San Francisco Bay Area commercial construction company.
Since the school’s founding in 2004, students, teachers and staff haven’t had a place they could really call their own. When the school opened, they started leasing an off-site building, but the school has outgrown its current warehouse space.
“This has been a long-term, 10-year goal for us to get a building that we own, on our district property,” said Roseland School District Superintendent Amy Jones-Kerr. “We’re really excited to have a beautiful school for our students. It’s something our students are going to be really proud of.”
The new school was designed by architects at Aidlin Darling Design and will contain a science lab, media classroom, administrative offices and 18 classrooms. Outside, students will be able to enjoy benches, picnic tables and a basketball court.
There will also be a special place called “The Big Room.” In the current school facility, one of the most prized areas is “The Big Room,” an open space in the middle of the warehouse. In the new school, “The Big Room” will be replicated in the form of a large, open multipurpose space complete with a 10-by-40 foot motorized door. In nice weather, the door can be opened to the outdoors. And it will be in this space that students will come together for assemblies, student of the month ceremonies, rallies, meetings and recreation, helping to create a sense of unity throughout the Roseland University Prep student body.
The school specializes in preparing first-generation college students to take that next big step in their educational careers. In fact, the school district that Roseland University Prep is part of, which includes a preschool, three elementary schools, two middle schools (one of which is a combination middle and high school) and one other high school, has the highest rate in the county of Hispanic students who graduate from high school and go on to attend a college or university.
Jones-Kerr said about 91 percent of the district’s students receive free or reduced school lunches, an indication of the working-class families the students come from.
“Most of our students start with us in preschool and go through high school,” Jones-Kerr said. “We have a lot of support systems in place to get them into college, including a student services manager, college counselor and an emotional counselor. The demographic we serve comes with hardships and challenges, and our students need that aspect of support to achieve academically.”
Typically, they see a 95 percent graduation rate, another high mark of achievement in the county. Because of Roseland University Prep’s success, there’s often a wait list to attend, and the district holds lotteries to determine which students will be offered a space.
Construction of the new $12 million two-story school was funded in part through a state grant and private fundraising. Actor Edward James Olmos from “Stand and Deliver” and “Miami Vice” also helped Roseland create a video that was used for fundraising.
“Having this big beautiful high school is a dream come true for the community,” said Jones-Kerr.