Groundbreaking Ceremony Was a Time for Reflection as well as Visioning

With ceremonial hard hats and shovels in hand, the Board of Education celebrated the groundbreaking on Tuesday, May 8 for Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School. Student Safety Patrol members from nearby Wolf Canyon Elementary School led the flag salute on a warm, sunny day at 1650 Exploration Falls Drive, the address of the soon-to-be Camarena campus.

Board Vice President Douglas E. Luffborough, III, gave the opening remarks and noted that all the planning that was accomplished over the past few years “culminated in this day.” Now, it is time for the construction phase of the project.

“We have begun construction on a campus that will be smartly-designed, energy efficient, and that will showcase 21st Century teaching and learning,” Luffborough said.

Camarena Elementary is scheduled to open in July 2013. Already, heavy equipment is rolling across the site, grading the land at a furious pace. When finished, it will immediately relieve enrollment pressure at Wolf Canyon School.

The Board approved naming the school after Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena, a former Marine, police officer and DEA agent whose death at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel in 1985 sparked what is now Red Ribbon Week in schools across the nation.

The groundbreaking event included business and community leaders, architectural firm Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke, contractor Balfour Beatty Construction, and District staff and administrators. But it was the Camarena family, including matriarch Mrs. Dora Camarena, 88, who seemed to give the proceedings a higher purpose. Mrs. Camarena noted the heavy price her family has paid in service to the country. In addition to the death of son Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena, she also lived through the death of her eldest son, who died in the Vietnam War. It was especially moving when, after the ceremonial pictures, Mrs. Camarena clutched a piece of earth, tossed it in the air, and blessed it where it fell to the ground. It was perhaps meant to be a private reflection. But the impact was felt by those who noticed.

Mrs. Camarena’s grandson, Enrique E. Camarena, a deputy district attorney who followed father “Kiki” into law enforcement, spoke at the groundbreaking. He noted his father’s ever-growing ‘footprint’ even now. Said Enrique E. Camarena: “When my father was a boy, he knew he wanted to be a police officer…” “When asked why, he said. ‘I am only one person, but I can make a difference.’ ”

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Fast facts about Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School:

  • It will be the District’s 46th school (including charters).
  • State approved site on April 30, 2008, with final District purchase of the site in 2008.
  • Estimated cost is approximately $30 million (excluding site costs of $2.7 million).
  • The funding source is the Community Facilities District/Mello-Roos special tax assessments. (No new school state funding is available on this project.)
  • First two-story District site in east Chula Vista.
  • 32 classrooms.
  • 67,253 square feet.
  • Capacity of 800 students.

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One Comment on “Groundbreaking Ceremony Was a Time for Reflection as well as Visioning”

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