Santa Fe High School Commons

After 15 months of construction, the commons area of Santa Fe High School has been transformed, enhancing the student experience with a significant and much-needed revamp.

"The new commons at Santa Fe High is an outstanding example of SFPS construction at its finest. Students now have a space for creating community, collaborating and being with friends.  We are deeply grateful to the Santa Fe community for providing critical dollars in support of the commons and Santa Fe's campus renovation," said Superintendent Hilario "Larry" Chavez.  "With the community's support, Santa Fe High's campus aligns with SFPS' focus on high-quality teaching and learning and is adaptable to students' needs, both today and tomorrow."

The newly revamped space now features a cafeteria capable of serving up to eight lines of students simultaneously. The seating area, which has doubled in size, blends reimagined, timeless-looking traditional cafeteria tables with the more mature, college-like seating options found in university commons areas.

A notable addition to the cafeteria is the new à la carte counter. This separate pricing area allows students to purchase individual items and, during warm weather, can be accessed from the outdoor courtyard through an innovative garage-style door.

To improve accessibility and alleviate congestion, an additional entrance has been introduced. Gene Bostwick, SFPS’ director of Construction & Real Property, explains, "We identified a bottleneck issue at the main doors. With the new garage-style door, students can enter in waves, easing the crowd flow. This door can be quickly closed in colder weather, maintaining comfort while improving efficiency."

The kitchen has seen a significant expansion, 1.5 times larger than the previous kitchen. This enlargement not only enhances the staff's ability to intake and store produce but also improves the overall cooking, serving and cleaning processes. The upgrade is particularly crucial since Santa Fe High School serves as a satellite cafeteria for other schools in the district. 

Bostwick adds, "We've also installed a complete wash line, paving the way for a shift from single-use dishes to reusable plates and metal utensils in the future."

Adding to the versatility of the commons area is a new stage equipped with full audiovisual capabilities, allowing the space to double as an auditorium.

Sustainability was a key focus during the design and construction phases. The building's insulation is notably thicker than standard, contributing to its robustness and energy efficiency. Kristy Janda-Wagner, deputy superintendent of Operations, Facilities, and Maintenance, notes that this design choice aids significantly in retaining heating and cooling, reducing energy consumption.

Outside the commons, new awnings provide shelter for students moving between classrooms and the cafeteria, while large metal gates secure the breezeway between the cafeteria and adjacent buildings, enhancing both security and accessibility.

“It’s nice,” said Sofia Hickle, 11th grader at Santa Fe High School. “You go in and they have music and stuff onstage, it feels a little more community driven. [The new commons] brought everything closer. This is already like a big campus, so this makes it a little easier to traverse it.”

While this construction completes the latest phase of remodeling for Santa Fe High School, future phases of construction are being planned. These improvements reflect a commitment to modernizing student facilities, prioritizing efficiency, sustainability and a more enjoyable dining and social experience for current and future students.