By Tomoya Simura
IRVINE – Welcomed by the giant drawing of a bulldog mascot that faces a parking lot and the smell of pristine classrooms, students, teachers and staff kicked off the historic first day of Portola High School.
There wasn’t much celebration Wednesday morning, except for some parents taking photos of their children at entrances to the new campus. Still, there wasn’t a lack of excitement among the 400 students, all of whom are freshmen.
“I’m just so thrilled that we started this brand new school,” said Laurel Feldner, 14, who came from Jeffrey Trail Middle School. “All of the teachers seemed so excited to be here. I know that I’m super excited to be here, and they just all seemed very ready to teach us.”
The opening of Portola High, the Irvine Unified School District’s fifth comprehensive high school, is a reflection of what’s happening in Irvine, one of the fastest-growing cities in California.
Adjacent to the northeast side of the Orange County Great Park, the school serves students from the developing Great Park Neighborhoods and other parts of north Irvine.
“We are already beginning to see, because of the growth, increased populations of students at our other high schools that were reaching levels that were less than ideal,” Irvine Unified Superintendent Terry Walker said. “It’s why it was so critical that we open this school this year.”