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Nipaquay Elementary Grand Opening Celebration

NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified, Indigenous Partners Celebrate Grand Opening of Mission Valley’s Newest Elementary School
Posted on 11/03/2022



News Release

San Diego Unified, Indigenous Partners Celebrate Grand Opening of Mission Valley’s Newest Elementary School


Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Unified School District celebrated its newest school Thursday, a campus that serves Mission Valley’s growing population and honors its rich history.

Named after the indigenous village that once existed nearby, Nipaquay Elementary School - translated to “Our Other Home” - is the result of years of planning between San Diego Unified and the community. It is the district’s first school built in Mission Valley.

Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson and District B Board of Education Trustee Kevin Beiser joined indigenous partners for the celebration. Students from Nipaquay Elementary and Kearny High School also participated in the grand opening of the district’s newest school, and November Native American Heritage Month. The event included a display of colors by the Kearny High Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, a national anthem performance by Kearny High junior Tyler Liebel, and a Kearny High cheer team performance.

The result of a November 1990 proclamation by President George H.W. Bush, November Native American Heritage Month recognizes the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States.

“We continue the tradition to recognize our indigenous staff and students year-round,” said Dr. Lamont Jackson, Superintendent of San Diego Unified. “For this 32nd annual November Native American Heritage Month, we acknowledge our diverse students and staff who make our school district and Nipaquay Elementary so unique.”

Lamont with Nipaquay Students

Pictured: Dr. Lamont Jackson (Superintendent) poses with Nipaquay Elementary 2nd Grade Students and Sisters, Laiyah and Londyn Ajirotutu

Located in the Civita development of Mission Valley and near a transit line with bike racks, the new campus features next-generation first-grade through fifth-grade classrooms with roll-up doors that open to the outside, creating hybrid indoor and outdoor learning spaces; a two-story entryway building that will house student services, a library, makerspaces, secure visitor check-in, and professional development spaces; dedicated play areas for Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK), kindergarten, and first-grade through fifth-grade students; and a versatile indoor and outdoor multipurpose facility.

“‘Just like the name ‘Nipaquay,’ I hope that this campus feels like a second home for the neighborhood and our students,’” said Michael Goodbody, Principal of Nipaquay Elementary.

A nexus for expansive trade routes, the Kumeyaay village of Nipaquay was an important gathering point for cultural exchange and a thriving venue for the exchange of goods.

The name was one of nine proposed by the district’s names committee, with input from the ethnic studies and youth advocacy departments.

The names committee reviewed public input submitted through an online survey and unanimously recommended the name for the new school to be ‘Nipaquay Elementary School.’ The recommendation went to the Board of Education in November 2021, which unanimously approved the name.

“We worked hard to make the process of naming this school fair and inclusive,” said Lidia S. Martinez, Chair of the Names Committee. “Now we’re seeing our recommendation come to life in such a beautiful way. We’re excited for future generations of Nipaquay students.”

“One small step toward restorative justice, this name recognizes and celebrates the long history of indigenous peoples,” said Olympia Beltran, a representative for the Kanap Kuahan Coalition and the San Diego Human Relations Commission.

Nipaquay Ribbon-Cutting

Picture from left to right: Principal Michael Goodbody, Shane Harris (Names Committee Member), Olympia Beltran (Names Committee Member), Kisha Borden (Names Committee Member), Nipaquay Elementary 2nd Grade Students and Sisters Laiyah and Londyn Ajirotutu, Alan Grant, Dr. Mike McQuary (Board of Ed. Trustee for District C), Dr. Fabiola Bagula (Deputy Superintendent), Dr. Lamont Jackson (Superintendent). 

Now open to UTK through 2nd-grade students, Nipaquay Elementary serves Mission Valley families, offering students an academic focus on environmental science and Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), which is supported by a sustainable design that incorporates solar power and energy efficiency. An additional grade will be added each school year until reaching UTK-5th grade.

“As my time as a board trustee nears its completion this December, I couldn’t ask for a more monumental campus like this to cap off my 12 years at the district,” Trustee Beiser said. “Seeing students, parents, teachers, and staff here at Nipaquay reassures me that the future is bright for San Diego Unified.”

Funding for this project is made available through local voter-approved Proposition Z, developer fees, and state schools facilities funding. Read more about the project at http://fpcprojects.sandi.net.

Drone video of the completed campus, a bond project fact sheet, historical land photos and History of the Grant Family (land owners prior to development)

Board of Education Civita Development Resolution


Nipaquay ES Naming Agenda Item


Jamie Ries, Information Services Specialist, San Diego Unified,  [email protected].