When students returned to class last month at Homestead High School, many of their elective classes were in the new 25,000-square-foot Innovation Hub.
The building, which sits along Homestead Road, now houses business, computer science, engineering and art classes, among other offerings.
“This is a creative space,” Principal Greg Giglio said. “It really lends itself to a very modern, creative, tech-like feel.”
Measure K, the $295 million school facilities bond voters approved in November 2014, funded construction of the building. The Fremont Union High School District set aside $19.883 million for the project, but it came in under budget at $18.24 million, Deputy Superintendent Graham Clark said.
The Innovation Hub is built where the F Building previously stood. The F Building had historically housed woodshop and auto shop classes, but over time enrollment in those courses declined.
“They were very large spaces, but actually poorly utilized,” Clark said. “We had a lot of square feet and not that many kids passing through there.”
Auto shop is now offered at Fremont High School, while woodshop is offered at Cupertino and Monta Vista high schools. Homestead students have the option to take the classes at the schools that still offer them.
The new Innovation Hub centralizes many elective classes in one building. There are computer labs, a recording studio, a large ceramics classroom and conference rooms. The building also has an open central area where students can congregate and study.
Originally the building was scheduled to open in February, but it was delayed after some changes were made to the concrete floors.
According to Clark, it ended up being simpler to move the classes over the summer anyway, especially because some of the courses require specialized equipment, such as kilns for ceramics.
There are still finishing touches left to add. The district is purchasing some additional furniture and supplies.
As teachers are getting used to their new classrooms, some issues have emerged. According to Bryon Lee, who teaches law classes, the large windows can be distracting for students. Windows connect his room to the central gathering space, which can make it hard for students to focus.
“I’m kind of getting used to a fishbowl,” Lee said. “I was joking in an email recently … that I’m finding myself just craving sushi more.”
He said he hopes to get blinds, similar to those that are on his exterior windows. Lee also noted that students in the common area have generally been good about not distracting his students.
“We have this great space, but what we want to do is ... make sure students aren’t being distracted,” Lee said.
The new building also provides him with options that he didn’t have before. In his law classes, he hosts mock trials and plans to have students use the conference rooms to prep their arguments privately.
Lee also advises the Future Business Leaders of America club, which he said generally has between 250 and 270 members. Not everyone attends each meeting, but it was still hard to squeeze everyone into his prior classroom.
Although his new room is approximately 25% smaller than his old space, it is connected to the adjacent classroom by a moveable partition. During club meetings, Lee plans to combine the two rooms so there is more space to spread out.
“We would pack it in because we are a very large club, and so this will help us be able to manage more kids,” Lee said.
Future bond work
The Innovation Hub is one in a series of improvements to Homestead High. Voters passed three bond measures, in 2008, 2014 and 2018, to improve campuses throughout the district.
Measure K, which passed in 2014 and funded the Innovation Hub, is also being used to construct a Guidance and Student Services building, which will house administrative offices, guidance counselors and the college and career center, among various other functions.
The current office building will be modernized and turned into classrooms, also using Measure K money.
Measure CC, passed last year, will then be used to modernize a number of other buildings around campus.
Taken together, Giglio said all of the improvements give the campus “some new life and a sense of pride for the kids.”
A grand opening for the Innovation Hub is slated for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 12. Later that evening the school will host its annual back-to-school night.