Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton provides an update to Samohi's plan Credit: Thomas Leffler

Updates to the campus of Santa Monica High School were brought to the public this week, including progress on both construction and planning for Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the school’s campus plan. Held on Tuesday at the school’s Discovery Building cafeteria, the presentation was led by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton, along with several other speakers.

The campus plan began with Phase 1 and Phase 2, which ended with the completion of the Discovery Building in 2021. The plan is currently on Phase 3, which is the construction of the school’s new Exploration building and Gold gymnasium, breaking ground in August 2022. In the Exploration Building, three academies rooted in integrated project-based learning will be developed: Project Lead the Way engineering; Health, Medicine and Wellness; along with Law, Public Service and Government. The Gold gymnasium plans to expand Samohi’s physical education opportunities with a two-court practice gym, a third auxiliary court for basketball and volleyball, and a first floor with a yoga room and fitness room. On the upper floor, a dance studio will be implemented to support the cheer and dance teams.

As SMMUSD turns its attention to Phase 3 completion and development of Phase 4, Upton noted that “the Samohi campus is a reflection of the community and its commitment to education” and that “the community’s input is essential” in the direction of construction.

Phase 4 planning is in continued development, calling for a new student center, library, administration building and performing arts center on the campus. The student center would include house spaces for club meetings, work rooms and a parent engagement center. An updated library would implement quiet areas for study time, a large common open area and several other work spaces.

Theater arts, a staple at Samohi, would receive a ramping up from the plan with a humanities center, with room for a black box theater, a production shop, two dressing rooms, a makeup and changing room, a green room, a costume shop and sewing room, and costume and prop storage.

The district has been deep in discussions with the public about current campus projects at Samohi and beyond. After a recent community meeting at the Roosevelt Elementary School campus, along with the Samohi meeting, the district also hosted a planning meeting at Franklin Elementary School Thursday evening. The Franklin campus “master plan” proposes renovations to the school auditorium, library, music and art classrooms, as well as an updated kindergarten and transitional kindergarten complex.

“Through these site meetings participants will gain a greater understanding of the current status of the school facilities and how improvements will impact student learning and performance,” Upton said. “The school facilities are essentially the ‘third teacher.’ Having modern, updated learning environments engages students in their education.”

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...