Common areas, workspaces renovated over the summer to enhance student learning

Olivia Hohmann

Over the summer, walls were torn down and new furniture was bought to improve classrooms and facilities that students use on a day-to-day basis. Both teachers and students are hopeful that these changes will allow everyone to make the most out of this year.

The commons, library, publications lab, robotics room and strings room have all been revamped. These renovations included new furniture, updated classrooms, increased space and new tools. All of these changes were made to enhance students’ learning experiences within the spaces.

“I am excited about all of the changes around the school,” strings teacher Adrian Demian said. “I think these renovations will allow the students to have the best ESD experience possible. We as teachers are always trying to give our students the best tools so that they can succeed.”

The arrival of new furniture has brightened up spaces around the school, one of them being the commons. The old wooden chairs have been replaced with white chairs with colorful cushions, and there are new couches for students to sit on. The new furniture not only freshened up the school house building, but also made it easier for students to talk and collaborate with others. The Gill Library received a summer makeover as librarians Mary Jo Lyons and Cathy Arvizu transformed the library into a more functional space. They have created an environment where students can get their work done or simply take a break from their busy lives.

“Our goal is to help make the library as functional as possible for students,” Lyons said. “We worked hard over the summer to help make the library a place for students to work on homework, collaborate with other students and to take a break from life and read a book.”

One of the librarians’ goals was to transform the old computer area into an inviting place where students could read and relax. They worked all summer to create the old computer lab into a cozy area with bean bag chairs, floor pillows and blankets.

“One of the main things we wanted to do was transform the computer lab that didn’t get used a lot and was kind of awkward in how the computers were laid out,” Lyons said. “We wanted to find ways to introduce a more fun and relaxing area in the library, so what we did over the summer was we moved the entire middle school fiction collection into this room.”

The creation of the new publications lab has made it easier for students involved in newspaper, yearbook, Literary magazine and Journalism I to collaborate with one another. The large classroom contains communal tables, making it easier for students to work together on stories or page layouts. Across the hall from the journalism lab, the robotics classroom was expanded over the summer, as the computers were taken out and replaced with new tools, such as a 3-D printer and a laser cutter. Also, later this year they are hoping to add a garage and turf behind the classroom so that they can race their robots.

“They really opened up the robotics room to give us more space, [and] I am pretty sure they knocked down the back wall, ” sophomore Daly Ryder said. “The room is way more open. I had a class in that room last year and it was very cramped and we would all be at desktops very close to each other. Now we have lots of room to do whatever we need to do.”

In the Frank building, the strings room underwent a massive renovation, knocking down a wall to make room for more chairs and instruments. There was a need for a bigger classroom as the number of students taking the class has drastically increased. Although they got rid of the private practice rooms, musicians now have enough space in the classroom to practice as a complete orchestra. The new space has proved useful as every seat in one of Damien’s classes is taken. He is hopeful that this new room will give his students the space they need to grow as musicians.

“The room was made larger, [and] bigger is better,” Demian said. “When I started teaching here in 2014 there were just 10 students [ranging] from lower school to seniors who were taking strings. Now there are more than 80 students taking strings.”

Now that all students are back in-person, these renovations will allow students to have a productive school year. Teachers and students alike are thrilled with the improvements and new technology which l will make for a more robust school experience.

“Mrs. Arvizu and I are constantly working to make the Gill Library a dynamic and engaging space that inspires learning and collaboration,” Lyons said. “We are excited to be back at full capacity this year and to have students and faculty using the library throughout the day. We think that these library renovations along with the other exciting changes around the school will allow us to have a fantastic year.”

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