Boundaries for Temecula’s new high school may create domino effect

Where will your child be going to high school next fall? For many families who live immediately north of Highway 79, the question remains unanswered.Great Oak High School, located near the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, is scheduled to open its doors in August 2004, but for the next eight months many final details still need ironed out, including the boundaries, school colors and mascot. “The only boundary that I can say is solid is everything south of Highway 79,” said Tim Ritter, the Chaparral High School principal who will become principal for the city’s third and newest high school.Ritter, who is performing a balancing act between his current commitments to Chaparral and his future with Great Oak, said the boundaries in question are for people who live in certain pockets north of Highway 79.“The governing board is expected to have the school’s boundaries discussed at the next school board meeting as an information item only and approval of the boundaries made in February,” said Danielle Clark, information officer for the Temecula Valley Unified School District.After the boundaries for Great Oak are made, Clark said the decision could have a domino effect and result in changes in boundaries for both Chaparral and Temecula Valley High School.“We have been getting calls everyday from parents, and even Realtors, asking about the shifting boundaries,” Clark said.Susan Lloyd, a real estate agent with Century 21 Wright in Temecula, said the Realtors have been telling buyers about the new school, which has cost close to $72 million to build, but for the most part, the undetermined boundaries have not been an issue.“I don’t think the boundaries have been an issue with buyers because Temecula’s other two high schools are very good,” said Steve Lamberson, sales manager and associate broker with Century 21 Wright.President of the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) at Vail Ranch Middle School, Susan Elliott is thrilled to know her daughter will be attending Great Oak in the fall.Elliott who lives south of the 79 is working on getting a PTSA group chartered at Great Oak.“I am happy to know my child won’t have to attend an overcrowded school and she will have a better opportunity to shine as a leader,” Elliott said.Elliott referred to the fact Great Oak will only have ninth and tenth graders for its first year, with juniors and seniors being added during the following two years.“I think the new school is a great opportunity for next fall’s ninth and tenth graders to really shine, but not everyone thinks so.”Some students, Elliott said have mentioned they would prefer to attend one of the older high schools because they have friends there and the sports teams are established.The new school has been reported to have everything that Temecula Valley and Chaparral High School have, including clubs and extracurricular activities.Ritter said they will have varsity sports teams, a marching band, color guard and drum line.“We will have the sports, but what we are looking for now is the mascot and school colors,” Ritter said.Names such as the Giants, Red Hawks, and Eagles have been tossed around as possible mascot names for Great Oak.“Fighting Acorns was also on the list, so I guess we could be a little nutty,” said Elliott.Great Oak, according to Ritter, will also have strong academic and technical programs. Besides honor classes and advanced placement courses that can be used for college credit, students can enroll in the International Baccalaureate program, an internationally recognized diploma which helps students get into college.Many of 1,000 ninth and graders who are expected to attend Great Oak in August may prefer taking a technical career track. Those interested in the technical programs will be able to participate in construction or cabinetry apprenticeships, receive certifications in Microsoft Office or attend courses in hotel and restaurant management.The next school board meeting is scheduled for January 20 at 6:00 p.m. at 31350 Rancho Vista Road.

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