Old Highland Kmart transformed into a charter school

Rob McMillan Image
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Old Highland Kmart now home to a charter school
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Highland Avenue is dotted with businesses. Many of them are big box stores. The old K-Mart building is still there; only it's no longer K-Mart.

HIGHLAND, Calif. (KABC) -- Highland Avenue is dotted with businesses. Many of them are big box stores. The old Kmart building is still there, only it's no longer a Kmart, it's a brand new charter school.

"It doesn't look like a Kmart that's for sure," said freshman Christian Dull.

The building had been vacant for more than 15 years. Construction wrapped up this summer on Entrepreneur High School. It opened to ninth graders this year, and within a few years will serve grades nine through 12.

But the fact that the school opened in the shell of a big-box store isn't its only unique feature. Visitors need to take a look inside to see why.

"You need angles. You need the curvature," said executive director Ray Culberson, comparing the building to a Google facility. "It's the way a 21st century design should be."

The hallways aren't straight - they have jagged edges. The colors of the walls in the main student area aren't gray - they're orange and yellow. Even the tables and chairs are unique as they're made in odd shapes to make students feel comfortable and engaged.

"That's the most fantastic part," Culberson said. "It lends itself to creative learning and lends itself to cooperative learning."

The tables and chairs were provided by Hertz Furniture, a company that provides school furniture nationwide.

"(The chairs) are on casters so they can move around," said Steve Neudorff, Hertz Furniture regional sales manager of Southern California.

He said the school's environment has had a positive effect on the students.

"The kids are proud of their school," Neudorff said. "When they're happy and want to come to school, that stimulates learning."

Freshman Christian Dull said it appears to be working.

"It's definitely a different environment," Dull said. "It's not really a school, kind of."

And certainly no longer a Kmart.