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GVUSD opens L.E.A.F. building

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Former Golden Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees member Brian Freeman inadvertently cuts the ribbon a little too early for the Liberty High School Engineering Agri-Science Farming (L.E.A.F) Academy building last week. Getting a laugh out of it are GVUSD Superintendent Kevin Hatch, along with Board of Trustee members, from left, Steve Lewis, Maria Knobloch and Shelley Johnson.


After years of discussion and the past couple of years of building, Golden Valley Unified School District officially opened Liberty High School’s L.E.A.F. (Liberty Engineering Agri-Science Farming) Academy building last week.

“It was fantastic,” said GVUSD Superintendent Kevin Hatch. “It’s been a long time coming. I know it’s exciting for the community. I’m just really excited for our kids so they have a place to learn and have a place to practice what they are learning.”

The building was constructed on land just east of the LHS main campus is one of the first major upgrades at Liberty.

“It’s been talked about for a long time,” Hatch said. “The plans started around 2015-2016, or maybe earlier.”

Construction for the project began a couple of years ago and actually occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic, the building was still completed on time and will be ready for the 2022-2023 school year.

“It went pretty much on time, as far as construction,” Hatch said. “We timed the bidding in order to get the lowest cost we could. That worked out pretty well.”

School board members, Hatch and Madera County Office of Education Superintendent Cecilia Massetti, along with teachers and guests were on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. The guests were then treated to a tour of the building.

“There are classrooms, a prototyping shop, a wood shop, an auto mechanics garage, environmental resources water lab for a pathway that will come down the road,” Hatch said. “It was designed with ag in mind. But, also with the idea of forming a manufacturing pathway and an environmental resource one.”

The district was forward-thinking to include classrooms to house equipment of subject pathways that aren’t even established, yet — environmental resources and manufacturing.

“The dream is to be able to serve the needs of the kids and their interests in those areas,” Hatch said.

The building will also house the blossoming LHS agriculture department and the Future Farmers of America.

“It will also provide a place for our ag students who have been operating out of a science classroom on the main Liberty campus,” Hatch said. “They get to take immediate benefit of the building. They have pens to put animals in. They can weld in a shop designed for welding instead of trying to weld inside a C-train that was behind the science building.”

The district also built the building to be able to add more resources and educational tools as the need comes.

“As we grow, we will be able to expand and it will be an amazing opportunity for our students,” Hatch said.

With the ribbon cutting last week, the L.E.A.F. building will be ready for students in August when LHS students return to campus.

“The building will have everything in it,” Hatch said. “We won’t have the environmental pathway yet, until we get more students. We don’t have the machine and forming technology pathway yet. That will come down the road. However, our ag students will be able to take advantage of that equipment in ag mechanics and ag science.”


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