New SPHS STEM Building Open, Classes are Underway

Superintendent Dr. Geoff Yantz, left, and SPHS Plant Foreman Bruce Underwood are also helping out. Photos by Henk Friezer

The long-awaited STEM (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology) building at South Pasadena High School opened its doors to students for the first time on Tuesday, Jan 22.

The new 200,000 square-foot facility houses four science labs for the physical sciences, six classrooms for mathematics and a new locker room for the softball team. There will also be a flex lab that will host engineering classes to start next fall, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoff Yantz.

“It should be a gamechanger for our science teachers and provide them with what they need and certainly deserve,” said Yantz.

STEM education helps students become problem solvers, creators and collaborators, enabling them to fill a “critical pipeline” of engineers, scientists and innovators for the future of California and the nation, according to the California Department of Education. The department noted that the growth of jobs in California requiring STEM proficiency is on the rise. In California, there are approximately five people searching for every available job. Meanwhile, there were 1.5 STEM jobs available for every job seeker.

South Pasadena High School Principal Janet Anderson displays a chart directing students in the new STEM building. Photos by Henk Friezer

The $13-million building was constructed in approximately 14 months and is on track to come in on budget. The facility takes over the footprint of six portable classrooms and two tennis courts. There are four remaining tennis courts across the street, which are due to be redone next year.

Yantz shared that prior to the completion of the building, SPHS science teachers did not have enough lab space for their classes and often had to move rooms, disrupting the flow of study.

“Now, our teachers will have a dedicated lab that will be theirs,” Yantz said.

Plans for the STEM building began about eight years ago and Yantz is looking forward to seeing it finally come to completion.

“It’s been many years that this building has been in the planning stages, so it’s very exciting to see it done,” he said. 

The district plans to host an Open House for the building on April 24. Initially, there were plans to host the event on Dec. 6 before move-in, but the rain in December 2018 pushed the schedule back.