AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week But much of what’s lacking in resources, students and faculty have made up for with resourcefulness. The most recent result of that resourcefulness is lights for the football field. During the summer, Vasquez athletic director Tim Jorgensen took out a personal loan to purchase used lighting equipment from Georgia Tech University through an online auction. Jorgensen rented a truck and drove the equipment back from Georgia in early July. Football players, their parents and volunteers from the community were up until midnight several nights digging ditches on the field so the lights would be ready for the Mustangs’ Sept. 3 home opener. The extraordinary measures the team’s players and coach took to make “Friday Night Lights” part of the Vasquez experience propelled the team to the best regular-season record in school history. ACTON – Amid the million-dollar ranch homes that dot the hills between the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita, the sight of what appears to be a trailer park and an undersized plastic airplane hangar seems oddly out of place. Architectural incongruity is the most obvious hint that something isn’t quite right at Vasquez High School. Visit the small campus, and the clues pop out one after another. Looking for the cafeteria? The library? A usable gym? Even an activities room? Keep looking. At Vasquez, you’ll find none of those amenities that are fixtures in the American high school experience. Freelance Vasquez (7-2) will face Santa Fe League champion Salesian of Los Angeles in the first round of the Division XII playoffs. “When you walk out onto that field, something about it gives you another level of energy,” senior receiver/defensive back Casey Schlock said. “That’s what we worked for, that’s what so many people went to bat for us for. When you walk onto that field it sets you off and gets you ready to play football.” With about 600 students, 12-year-old Vasquez is about one-sixth the size of Highland High School or Palmdale High School. Vasquez is operated by a school district that has been in and out of financial trouble, the subject of a recall and other controversy since 1992, when citizens voted to secede from the Antelope Valley Union High School District so that Acton and Agua Dulce teens didn’t have to travel to Palmdale for high school. Vasquez High started classes in 1993 on the campus of High Desert School, and got its own campus of portable buildings in 1999. Three bond measures that would have brought funds to build permanent structures were defeated by voters. Vasquez is currently seeking the type of financial hardship assistance from the state that’s typically given to schools in low-income inner-city communities, not towns such as Acton. As a nonvoting student representative on the school board that’s been blamed for many of Vasquez’s woes, senior two-way lineman Mansur Ivie knows more than most of his peers about how local government works. Or to hear him tell it, doesn’t work. Opponents of the bond measures cited school board incompetence as the deciding factor in the board’s reluctance to fund future construction. Bond opponents said it’s not fair to blame the voters, rather than district officials, for Vasquez’s plight. “It’s easy to convince kids we’re the big bad wolves,” said resident Tana Lampton, who said Vasquez’s athletic director was wrong in arranging for the stadium lights on his own rather than going through the elected school board. Among the most glaring examples of officials’ failures is the vinyl-roof building that was supposed to serve as the school’s temporary gym. The school is four years into a 10-year lease agreement, which costs $60,000 annually for a facility shuttered last year because of liability concerns. The gym hasn’t been approved by the state’s architectural board. It remains padlocked during school hours, but is used now by the YMCA. “If they tried to screw things up, they couldn’t have made it any worse than it is,” said former Vasquez volleyball player Chris Evans, a 2002 graduate. The failed bond measures would have qualified the district for state matching funds for construction. Jorgensen believes opponents of the bond measures are typically older retirees who don’t have children in local schools. “It’s tough because when you go (to school board meetings) listening to those guys talk,” Ivie said, “they make it sound like the high school is the biggest problem they’ve ever had in Acton, like this school is the worst thing that’s ever happened here.” Ivie finds it difficult to understand after spending part of his childhood in football-mad Texas. “I grew up hearing about Odessa (Texas) and small towns like that, that just love their football teams and surround their football teams,” Ivie said. “I really never expected this.” Gideon Rubin, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!