Like several other schools in the district, University High School is reaping the benefits of Proposition S, a $2.1 billion general obligation bond measure passed in 2008. Approved by voters as a way to help repair, renovate and revitalize neighborhood schools, the funds cannot — to the dismay of some — be used for teacher and administrative salaries. What they can be used for is to make the experiences of students at least slightly more enjoyable with things like, in the case of UCHS, a brand new football field and track.
This year, athletes and performers will have the chance to make use of a state-of-the-art synthetic turf field and all-weather track, making events at the stadium true crowd pleasers. The game changer for the project, meanwhile, comes in the form of illumination — specifically, new energy-efficient lighting for night games and events, as well as a new scoreboard.
The lighting, said Marie Byrd, parent support liaison for the school, will go a long way toward bringing the school and the community closer together.
“Most all of the games were played in the afternoon. It’s difficult for most parents to come to an afternoon game, so we didn’t get big crowds,” Byrd said. “[The lighting] allows the school to have evening games, which will draw more parents and people from the community, so it helps both the school and the community. It’s a great benefit.”
The permanent lighting will also save the school money, since the need to rent lights and generators for the occasional night event is no longer there. Plus, said Byrd, it brings a sense of nostalgia to the school.
“It will really give us that Friday night football game feeling that a lot of us had growing up,” she said.
To commemorate the revived field, the school will hold a dedication ceremony on Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m., to be followed by what will still be a relatively new experience — a nighttime football game against Southwest High School.
“We’re really excited,” said principal Jeff Olivero. “The field was out of commission all last year, though the seniors got to graduate on it. We have some upper athletic fields that are not in great shape — the gophers have dug them up and the irrigation isn’t great. But now, the nice thing is that we’ll be able to have a lot more athletics take advantage of [the new field].”
The look of the new field — vibrant with the contrast between the green turf, red track and the school’s colors of blue and white — has quite literally put UCHS on the map. The home of the Centurions can now be seen from 30,000 feet, as airline passengers can vividly see the field from the air as they fly over University City. (Byrd confirmed this on a recent flight.)
The project, the construction phase of which lasted about one year, was completed last June in time for graduation. But the new school year brings with it an untold number of experiences — both day and night — for future Centurions.
For more information on UCHS, visit www.sandi.net/universitycity.