Login to Claremont COURIER

SAHS students bring their game on new turf

Under the leadership of principal Sean Delgado, San Antonio High has been spurred to action. The most recent evidence of the transformation is a new outdoor multi-purpose sports court, featuring a sturdy plastic surface emblazoned with the school’s Lion mascot.

The school celebrated a new era of athletic opportunity earlier this month, inaugurating the Lion Sports Court with a ribbon-cutting followed by San Antonio’s first volleyball game.

The game took place under the auspices of the fledgling Inland Valley League, which was spearheaded by Mr. Delgado and consists of area continuation schools. These include San Antonio, Hillside High School in Upland and Pomona’s Park West. Buena Vista High School in Chino is also considering throwing in its lot with the IVL.

“I called the principals, and the ones I talked to were new principals themselves,” Mr. Delgado said. “They were very eager to try something new and different for their campuses.”

The Park West Wizards took the day, winning three games to the Lions’ two. Still, Mr. Delgado sees the event as a victory.

“It was one of those moments where you felt like a huge dream was realized,” the administrator said. “We had sports going on—boys and girls playing another school—something they had practiced hard to reach. The were playing on our home court in front of parents, in front of staff members, and with our student store open to provide concessions and make sales.”

It’s all part of the modus operandi employed by Mr. Delgado, who’s in his third year at the helm of San Antonio. From day one, he has aimed to institute or revive as many programs as possible that provide extracurricular enrichment, make the school day fun and foster a sense of school pride.

In the 2013-2014 school year, the administrator hired an activities director and created an Associated Student Body organization. This led to a resurgence of clubs on campus. This year’s hot ticket is membership in San Antonio High School’s brand-new Key Club, which has seven officers and 30 members.

Students were also encouraged to select a new mascot and embrace it as a brand. Nowadays, if you want to show your support for the Pride, you can visit an online store accessible on the school’s website and buy San Antonio Lions-emblazoned swag. San Antonio students were also encouraged to head to Disneyland for their very own grad night.

“Activities make school fun,” Mr. Delgado said in an earlier interview. “If you make school fun, kids are more likely to go to school and participate.”

Last year, Mr. Delgado piloted a competitive sports program, starting with soccer and basketball. Students were enthusiastic about the chance to compete and so this year, San Antonio introduced flag football and cross-country as well as volleyball.

With the installation of the new sports court, the Lions have a place to engage in a number of sports including tennis, badminton and roller hockey or field hockey.

It all started when Rick Cota, executive director of facilities, approached Mr. Delgado and asked him if he was interested in changing out San Antonio’s aging basketball court for something more versatile. Sports courts are attractive for a continuation school because they generally don’t have a gym.

“It’s kind of a way to give them something,” Mr. Cota said.

Mr. Delgado had never heard about the kind of court Mr. Cota was proposing, but he was quick to catch on. “He showed me the website [sportcourt.com] and I said, ‘I’m in.’”

The sports court, which is 50 feet by 82 feet, was manufactured and installed by Sport Court, and customized with the school’s green and black colors. The project took only about four days to complete, from demo to finish, and cost about $47,000.

The money came from an annual Recreational Assessment District (RAD) fee levied on property owners in Claremont. The fee, which is $88.10 per single-family equivalent unit, is attached as part of local property taxes.

The idea behind the RAD, which has been in effect for more than 20 years in the City of Trees, is that property owners help pay to maintain school facilities that are open to the public.

“A lot of schools lock down their sites, but ours remain open so people can use the fields, the playgrounds, that kind of thing,” CUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Lisa Shoemaker said. “Our outdoor facilities are like parks, open and available for the public to use.”

For instance, when the CHS field is not occupied, anyone can go there after school hours and walk or run on the track. Thusly, RAD money, which each year amounts to something in the neighborhood of $1.2 million, was used to pay for the new turf laid down in the CHS football field in 2012.

Likewise, anyone in the community can stroll onto the San Antonio High School campus after the students have gone home and shoot some hoops. It’s an experience Mr. Delgado predicts folks will enjoy.

“The surface is a hard plastic material that’s good for absorbing some shock—better than concrete,” he said. “It also has some horizontal give, so when you pivot it’s easier on the knees.”

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com