Santa Rosa Academy Starts the School Year at its New Campus

Students in the high school wing of Santa Rosa Academy gather before classes. Monday was a bus...

Students in the high school wing of Santa Rosa Academy gather before classes.
Monday was a busy first day for the Santa Rosa Academy Charter School, said Principal Laura Badillo, but she, other staff members and students are just happy to have a facility of their own.

"We feel great," said Badillo. "It seems like we've just started out yesterday, but it's taken us eight years to get here."

In those eight years, Santa Rosa Academy has grown from 59 students being taught in a garage or rented space in strip malls to having just under 1,500 students enrolled with a permanent campus located on Haun Road.

"We've worked every single day for the past two weeks to be ready for today," said Badillo, "but the first day is going good and we're happy to finally be here."

Badillo said that during its first day, the school experienced a few mishaps, such as an Internet crash and some problems with air conditioning, but she said these sort of things were expected to happen on the first day and other than that, the school day went smoothly.

"Drop off this morning went especially smooth," said Badillo. "There were traffic officers out this morning. I think they were expecting there to be a major traffic back-up, but everything went fine."

Santa Rosa Academy was modeled after old California Spanish Rancho architecture. Badillo said the school's emphasis on traditional values influenced the style of the school.

"We didn't want it to look like a regular school," said Badillo. "The architecture of the school is intentional. We wanted it to reflect the moral traditions we value."

Overall, Badillo, staff, students, and parents are very pleased with the new facility. Badillo said the look on the students' faces when they saw their new school made all the work worth it, and some parents who have been with the school from the very beginning cried as they saw students finally have a permanent facility in which to learn.

The kids were ecstatic, said Badillo, especially the younger students who finally have a place to play.

While there are separate buildings for the elementary, middle school, and high school students, Badillo said she is very happy all the students are finally together. Having all the students together gives the older students opportunities to be student aides and tutors to younger classes and gives them more of a reason to behave responsibly. It also gives the younger students role models to look up to, she said.

"We are very excited to be back together," said Badillo. "We really want them to have a sense of how to be respectful to everyone. Having everyone together makes them all better."

Workers are still finishing landscape construction and small touch-ups, and Phase Two of the school will hopefully be underway once the charter school is able to raise enough money, Badillo said. Phase Two will include other facilities, such as a baseball field and a gymnasium.

Santa Rosa Academy will have a private opening celebration for students and parents on Back to School Night Sept. 26. After construction of the school is complete, the charter school will have an official opening ceremony sometime in October.

As for now, Badillo and staff are happy to have the school open for their students.

"We want the kids to feel important," shd said. "We want them to love it and feel that it's their school."

The Southwell children -- Jaydon, Ezra, Emily and Joel, left to right in the above photo -- pose for a picture for mom before they head into the new Santa Rosa Academy.

School principal Laura Badillo (center)  welcomes students and helps direct traffic in front of the school.
(Left to right): Student "ambassadors" Bentley Bigelow and Ritar Geyk show Bentley's younger brother, Hudson, where to find his new classroom.
Minor construction projects remain at the new campus, even as classes begin.
Younger students learn their way around the elementary school section of the campus.
A staff member gives directions to the Ellett siblings (from left, with mom): Nathan, Benjamin, Kathryn and Caleb.
A football field at the back of the campus is nearly completed.