During a lunch break in the spring of 2015, a young female student was belting out the blues in front of students and staff in the courtyard of Hoover High School. She had a microphone and speaker with long power cords leading through the open door from one of the nearby offices. The courtyard was surrounded by buildings from the 1970s, a classroom building from 1939, a portion of the original theater built in 1929, and a tired cafeteria.
Hoover High School is in City Heights, the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the county. This second oldest high school in San Diego, was originally constructed in 1929 in the Spanish Revival style. Over the years, historic buildings were demolished due to new earthquake standards. Replacement structures were introduced but gone were the original buildings’ gravitas and the campus’ connection to the surrounding neighborhood.
Today, the high school has a brand-new performing arts theater, a new three-story administration and classroom building, a new academic courtyard, and numerous other improvements. Gone are the window-less buildings from the ‘70s. New campus buildings now make a bold statement along the El Cajon Boulevard corridor.
A broad sweeping path leading from the “Boulevard” to the new buildings welcome students and visitors onto the campus. The administration and classroom building’s main entrance echoes that of the original 1929 buildings with its grand entry arch edged with pre-cast concrete. A 70-foot-tall tower element reestablishes the tradition of a special place for graduating seniors to sign their yearbooks. A college and community center is located adjacent to the main lobby. Display cabinets are provided on each floor to support alumni efforts in curating 90 years of memorabilia.
The new performing arts building and its glassy façade provide a beacon for the neighboring community. This fully equipped performance facility includes 500 seats, an orchestra pit, fly loft, scene shop, dressing rooms and classrooms. A new drama classroom, strategically located adjacent to the new outdoor amphitheater and academic courtyard, features large roll-up doors to encourage and facilitate student performances.