Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Getting Into The Groove

Getting Into The Groove
Classes Get Underway At SCC's New Satellite Campus In Vallejo
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Instructor Joan Wallace goes over a journal with student Michael Abeyta with fellow student Bemay Bains in the background Monday afternoon. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Solano Community College students found themselves in a newer and bigger space Monday as classes got under way at the Vallejo Center, the school's latest satellite campus along Columbus Parkway.

After a gala grand-opening Sept. 15, the Vallejo Center opened for business Thursday. Four days later, the newness was still a novelty, and construction workers were still on hand to make minor adjustments.

"I was shocked and very much surprised," said student Roosevelt Marshall on Monday when he entered the blue-and-white building for the first time.

"I'm extremely happy. We have a lot more room and more capacity for students in the community to take classes locally. This is a safe, comfortable environment," Marshall added.

Until recently, SCC students took classes in John F. Kennedy Library's lower floor up to the very last minute - until 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, said Vallejo Center director Jerry Kea. Other than some minor "fine-tuning," Thursday's opening went off without a hitch, he added.

Anna Geyer, Cinema II American History in Film teacher, said the new campus feels more like a college than the JFK library space, which "didn't have that academic setting." Meanwhile, Michael Abeyta said he likes the new space, but wishes there were a cafeteria, rather than vending machines.

Considerably larger than the JFK classroom space, the new campus will not be fully utilized for several months. Twenty more classes will be held after Oct. 15, when late-start classes begin, director Kea said. Math and science laboratories will be used next year during the spring semester.

Recent Bethel High School graduate Jerica Nalus enrolled in a hotel management class Monday while her parents, David and Ofelia Nalus, waited outside the counseling office.

Jerica said she's excited about her prospects. "We finally have a college in Vallejo," she said.

Some portions of the campus are still taking shape, such as the cozy library space outfitted with café style tables and chairs. There, students will be able to "hang out," using reference books and renting laptop computers to look up information on the Internet.

"I love it," said Erin Duane, access services librarian, of the new campus. "As a librarian I'm always excited about new technology and new books."

Of the Measure G bonds voters passed in 2002, $22.3 million went to pay for the new campus. The two-story building has 15 classrooms, including state-of-the-art computer, chemistry and math labs. The satellite campus now accommodates 650 students, but could be home to about 3,500 students by 2010.

Assistant city manager Craig Whittom and assets manager Steve England said no use has yet been identified for the basement rooms of the JFK library previously occupied by the college.

Technology specialist Galen Tom, left, describes to instructor Joan Wallace the workings of the video and computer assets available her in her new classroom. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Contact Sarah Rohrs at srohrs@thnewsnet.com or 553-6832.

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