Horizon Prep in Rancho Santa Fe graduates from cottages to new campus building


By Karen Billing

Horizon Prep dedicated five new grammar school classrooms on Monday, Aug. 25. Donor contributions have allowed the Rancho Santa Fe school to grow from 14 little green cottages to a school with 29 state-of-the-art classrooms and more to come.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the opening of this school year,” said Dr. Bob Botsford, Horizon Prep president and CEO, who snipped the ribbon with Tom Morissey of Morissey Construction in front of a crowd of school families.

The new classrooms are in a new campus building that was completed over the summer. The rooms feature big windows, bright colors and glossy wood floors.

“They are really nice big spaces, light-filled with brand-new everything,” said Lani Curtis, the director of development. “We really wanted to give the kids a lot of room to explore, learn and interact.”

Only three of those little green cottages remain, and Curtis said the school has a complete plan for the rest of the campus construction — they will keep building as the funds are raised.

Still under construction is a permanently covered dining commons that the school expects to be complete by the end of 2014.

HorizonWall1“This building is super-exciting,” said Curtis of the indoor/outdoor space that will be used by the entire school. On the side of the dining commons building, there will be three additional classrooms, including a dedicated music room with state-of-the art acoustics.

On Monday after the dedication, students had the opportunity to sign the inner wall of the commons, as has been traditional with all the new buildings on campus.

One more building the school needs to complete down the road is its library, which will be the only two-story building on the campus.

The middle school will also start the school with brand-new furniture — all of the desks and chairs are on wheels, so the classroom can be reconfigured quickly for the seminar-style setup of the Classical experience, which encourages collaboration.

Horizon Prep representatives said they are excited to have the high school to really round out their Classical education experience, which recognizes three levels of growth and development in a child’s thinking and learning: grammar, logic and rhetoric.

Last year was Horizon Prep high school’s first year, and each year they will roll up a class — this fall, starting with a freshman and sophomore class.

“We are grateful to have that first year under our belt,” said Botsford of the high school, which although still small and growing has quadrupled in size from its first year.

The high schoolers have their own dedicated space on campus to be high schoolers, away from the elementary and middle school.

They have their own student union called The Hub, a space with couches, a kitchenette, work stations and an outdoor deck. The students have taken pride and ownership of the space, Curtis said.

The high school humanities classrooms embrace the Harkness method of seminar-style classes — desks are replaced with a table at the center of the room.

“The teacher is the facilitator and the students show mastery of the content and present their opinions in a refined and respectful and persuasive kind of way,” Curtis said.

“It’s a completely different model of classroom experience; the students come to the table prepared and ready to participate and engage,” said Soncee Partida, communications coordinator. “By the end (of high school), they’re really master students, so it will be exciting to see how it comes to fruition.”

In addition to academics, students have plenty of athletic opportunities, with 11 acres of sports fields that will undergo a reconfiguration when the campus is fully built out. An aquatics center is also planned that will accompany the school’s spacious 2-year-old gymnasium.

The middle school’s sports program has been very successful and Independent Middle School League championship banners hang from the walls of the gym, accessed through the grand entrance, “The Lions Den,” which is adorned with a giant statute of a lion’s head over the doors.

While high school enrollment grows, students are able to participate in high school sports through the school’s alliance with Christian Life Assembly until they are big enough to apply to compete with CIF. The school joined the league last year and students form teams with home-school students. Last year students participated in soccer and track and field, and this fall they have their first football player playing in the league.