By Nadra Nittle
Ernest McBride High School, the first public secondary school to open in Long Beach since 1995, celebrated its grand opening Monday with a ribbon cutting in the gymnasium and speeches by school board members and relatives of the activist from which the school takes its name.
John McGinnis, president of the board of education of the Long Beach Unified School District, called the new high school “a special place” because of its curriculum, facilities and technological capabilities.
“Every class is wired,” McGinnis said. “The entire campus has Wi-Fi.”
It cost $75 million to build the 150,000-square-foot campus at Parkcrest Street and Los Coyotes Diagonal in East Long Beach. The campus boasts a number of green features, including an energy-efﬁcient water-cooled central plant and and light ﬁxtures that dim automatically.
During their time at McBride, students can pursue three academic pathways applicable to the career world: health and medical, law enforcement and public service, and engineering.
McBride opened on Sept. 4 with a freshman class of just more than 200 students. Additional classes will be added each year until fall 2016 when the school will reach capacity.
Since the first day of classes in September, the McBride student body has selected the wolf as its mascot and royal blue and silver as school colors.
Diana Craighead, vice president of the LBUSD school board, said McBride’s opening will meet the community’s needs.
“We’ve known for years students would do better in a smaller learning community,” she said.
While Long Beach high schools typically have student bodies of a few thousand, McBride will only have about 1,000 students once all four academic classes are enrolled. Craighead said that Long Beach parents have been asking for a small school “where no one would fall through the cracks.”
“Thanks to the voters of this community, this campus is now a reality,” Craighead continued, referencing Measure K, a bond initiative that voters passed in 2008 that gave LBUSD access to $1.2 billion to build new schools and repair existing ones.
Craighead praised the residents who live near McBride for having “endured three years of demolition and construction.” She also highlighted McBride Principal Steve Rockenbach for working for months to ensure that McBride’s first day of school proved successful.
Rockenbach discussed the school’s burgeoning Parent-Teacher-Student Association and School Site Council, a mix of parents, teachers, students and administrators who will make decisions about McBride.
A number of speakers also paid tribute to the late civil rights leader Ernest McBride Sr., including his son, Ernest McBride Jr. The elder McBride fought against segregation in Long Beach and the right of workers to unionize. He co-founded the Long Beach chapter of the NAACP in 1940. McBride died in 2007 at age 97.
“He dedicated his life to helping others,” McBride Jr. said.
The younger McBride went on to share his father’s words with the couple of hundred students assembled in the school gym for the grand opening: “If you use your hands and head,” he said, “you’ll make a living.”
Contact Nadra Nittle at 562-499-1291.Read original article