The District’s Newest School is an Aesthetic and Technological Marvel

Supported by area law enforcement and dignitaries, the Board of Education recently hosted a ceremonial dedication and ribbon-cutting for the District’s newest campus, the Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School. The school will hold its first classes on Wednesday, July 24 for more than 900 students.

Already lauded as an aesthetic and technological marvel, the school also sets a standard for energy conservation and efficient land use. The school is the District’s first with two-story buildings in east Chula Vista. It is located at 1650 Exploration Falls Drive, in the Winding Walk community of Chula Vista.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Color Guard opened the July 19 ribbon-cutting ceremony with a solemn presentation of the flags. The Board of Education 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 ribbon-cutting drew a bevy of law enforcement officials including Sheriff William D. Gore and Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano.

Architectural firm Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke and contractor Balfour Beatty Construction were praised for the quality of the campus. The Camarena family, including matriarch Mrs. Dora Camarena, reminded visitors of the human toll of the war on drugs. Mrs. Camarena’s grandson, Enrique E. Camarena, a deputy district attorney who followed father “Kiki” into law enforcement, spoke movingly of his father’s legacy.

Camarena Principal Dan Winters started his remarks with a question.

“So, how many of you would rate yourself high in creativity?  Raise your hand if you think, ‘I am a very creative person?’ …There was a study done in England and they asked kindergarteners that same question.  Do you know that 84 percent said yes? However, if you asked a second grader that question only 10 percent would answer that question with a yes.

“Something happens to us after 5 years old. Camarena Elementary is dedicated to raising that creativity rating to 100 percent in every grade level.  So, how are we going to do that? If you wanted creative children, I’m thinking you would want a state-of-the-art building designed  with beauty and functionality. Check.

“If you wanted creative children, you would want the school to be named after an inspirational person to serve as a role model for children and adults alike. Check.

“If you wanted creative children you would want them to be able to think freely and maybe write on the walls and write on the desks. Check

“But most importantly, if you wanted creative children you would want to surround them with creative teachers and other adults who will inspire, motivate, encourage, love, support, and celebrate their creativity. Check, Check, Check

“So, ‘Welcome to Camarena Elementary.’ ”

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