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Q&A: Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities

Learn about the new campus and academic program from Superintendent Ernie Anastos.

When the Lemon Grove School District broke ground nine months ago on a , it had two goals in mind—to turn the old Lemon Grove Middle School into the new Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanites, and build a long-awaited library for the city.

On Tuesday, the community can celebrate one of those goals when the throws open its doors for its inaugural school year. More than 1,100 preschool through eighth-grade students are expected to fill the campus that stretches along School Lane, starting them on a path to find answers to some of life's most important questions—“Who am I?” and ”Who do I aspire to be?”

At LGA, middle school students will experience an emphasis on learning science, technology, engineering and math. They'll have direct access to the new county library when it opens on the middle school campus in early spring. They'll enjoy a variety of improvements to classrooms. Even the lunch court got a makeover with friendlier cafe-style seating.

Here's a look at the year ahead from Superintendent Ernie Anastos.

Lemon Grove Patch: Who will lead the Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities?

Superintendent Ernie Anastos: Lemon Grove Academy represents a complete restructuring and will be led by Golden Avenue Principal Rick Oser.

By combining the existing elementary program (preschool through grade 6) with a new and vibrant STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) middle school program, we’ve been able to create a seamless preschool through grade 8 program. Mr. Oser will be principal of the expanded school; the other members of the administrative leadership team include Assistant Principal Kim Libenguth and Dean Yareli Macias.

Lemon Grove Patch: Who are the teachers?

Anastos: Most of the staff joining Lemon Grove Academy will be coming from Palm Middle School. Some of the full-time teachers not coming from Palm include Jesus Alvarez (returning to the original site of Lemon Grove Middle School), Brenda Schneeberger, Mary Kelly-Jacobs, Paul Santoyo, and music teacher Jason Lipford. There will also be a number of part-time teachers joining the staff to provide support in math, English Language Arts, and physical education. Additional teachers for Visual and Performing Arts and Spanish will be named in the coming week.

Lemon Grove Patch: What special events or programs do you have planned for 2012-2013?

Anastos: The school will be introducing a number of new components and programs. When the full remodel is complete, LGA will provide medical and due to a significant federal grant and ongoing partnership with UCSD, which hosts the current

Student schedules will include expanded blocks of time for math and English Language Arts, as well as an expanded selective class program to include classes in the arts, Spanish, health sciences and engineering. Basically, the new LGA program will provide students with experiences designed to build 21st century career awareness.

Lemon Grove Patch: How many students do you expect?

Anastos: Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities will have approximately 1,100 students from preschool through grade 8.

Lemon Grove Patch: What kind of physical changes have taken place?

Anastos: Proposition W funded a number of improvements at the site. Science classrooms were expanded, locker rooms remodeled, an outdoor learning lab was added, along with a new lunch court, which includes a stage and café-style seating. A new presentation room seats about 60, and has raised seating that will be used for demonstration lessons and can host multiple classes. There have been additional improvements in the landscaping. 

The biggest story of all, however, is the addition on the campus of a brand-new 13,500-square-foot library which will be run by the County Library system. This building will also be the location of the historic Lemon Grove School Bell. It will hang in the bell tower which anchors the library on the corner of Lincoln Street and School Lane.

Lemon Grove Patch: What should parents and students know about getting to and from the middle school campus?

Anastos: The school has a brand-new look, with new parking and drop-off areas for children. It’s important that parents take the time to familiarize themselves with the new drop-off area. For parents exiting the new parking lot, there is a “right turn only” sign to  help keep traffic moving safely. Ultimately, we’d like to see as many students as possible either walking or riding their bikes to school. There’s a great new bike lock area adjacent to the new lunch court.

Lemon Grove Patch: Who are the PTA leaders, and what special projects do they have planned?  How can parents get involved?

Anastos: As the year gets started, we’d like to see our PTA grow. While the elementary campus has a history of strong parent involvement and PTA membership, the new year provides an opportunity to attract members who are equally interested in supporting the middle school campus and its children. Communications will be coming out regularly from the school and will provide parents with many opportunities to support their children by becoming involved.

Lemon Grove Patch: Does the school district have any special new programs or events people should know about?

Anastos: This year the Parents United/Padres Unidos event will be held Oct. 20 at Vista La Mesa Academy. This event will provide parents with a number of options for learning more about the school district and developing parenting skills. It will also be a chance to celebrate another district improvement: the new Vista La Mesa Academy track and field.

Helen Ofield August 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
An exciting year lies ahead--and all of the years thereafter--in our school district. Visionary, yet practical, leadership and a deep commitment to providing our children with a well-rounded education makes the district a stand-out in California. The beautiful new library will welcome "Mrs. Bell" home at last after an absence of more than 50 years. When the dear old lady returns home, she will be 119 years young, still the great symbol of public education and the American dream.
Bob September 08, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Nice to see the new buildings taking shape. One comment, though: On Thursday I was leaving the market just as school was letting out and I found myself in the middle of the exodus. There is no crosswalk on School Lane at the point where most of the kids were leaving the school grounds and the old crosswalk is now in the wrong place. The kids were generally careful about crossing the street but it was the drivers jockeying to pick up their kids that worried me. Many seemed to be in a hurry and did not want to give way to the pedestrians. Impatient with waiting for a break in the line one driver pushed the nose of her vehicle into the line to make a gap for herself. It all felt a little out of control and in need of some supervision or direction. No adults were in sight on School Lane. Around the corner on Lincoln, a driver had stopped in the lane in front of the parking lot exit and traffic backed up behind her. Cars began to cross into the other lane to pass her and found themselves at odds with the cars leaving the lot. Into the mess comes an ice cream truck trolling for customers. One gentleman was on the scene here looking out for the kids. But from what I saw, the kids on foot were behaving prudently. It was the big kids in the big cars that were creating a potentially dangerous situation.

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