Today I walked to Valmonte School with my 7 year old son, Niall. The first thing I noticed was the breathlessness that I sensed as I walked up and down the steep but tiny hills that are on the way to/from the school. Far too out of shape for my own good! As I huffed and puffed I was remembering that in my childhood I would ride a bike or briskly walk up and down those hills with great vigor and dispatch, unaware of any physical limits or problems, and in a body that was in very much better physical condition then, in comparison with now. Now, a lot of years later the hills were a challenge and a chore–but a pleasant one nonetheless. Niall wanted to go there to practice his soccer skills. Being the soccer buddy with a 7 year old requires stamina and so I welcomed the chance to at least pretend to myself that I was getting some exercise while at the same time relishing the chance to play with Niall.
At Valmonte I notice that it is not a K-5 school like it used to be. I also notice that the playground areas are underdeveloped, unchanged for decades, and not useful for its intended purpose–a place for kids to play. I am annoyed that the playground does not offer more options for the benefit of kids–for example, much better baseball/softball fields with decent backstops, basketball hoops for little kids to use, drinking fountains, etc. It seems to only be a “developmental” kindergarten in some of the classrooms while at least a few other rooms that are entirely empty. I do not understand or agree with the school district’s phase-out of Valmonte and Malaga Cove schools. It seems odd that students in the local area–the area where I grew up as a child–have to travel further away to go to school. Local kids in the Valmonte area of Palos Verdes Estates have to be DRIVEN to other schools which are not nearby, unlike in years past when we were able to walk and play at Valmonte or Malaga Cove schools. I am especially confused why several classrooms at both campuses are barren and empty and unused. Why are there no adult education classes or other enrichment learning or recreational activities taking place in those rooms, for the benefit of the local folks who are forced to leave their neighborhood for schooling?