For many students returning to school this week, the question that has been asked more than any other was, “How was your summer? What did you do?” If the walls of our high school media center could talk, they would smile and answer that question by merely saying, “Take a look around!”
Thanks to monies brought in by our bond proposal, the “library” that hadn’t been touched in decades was re-imagined and brought into the 21st century with the kind of forward-thinking that will help shape student learning for years to come.
Six large, flat-screen television sets are mounted on the walls for computer hook-up, creating alcoves for study and collaboration. Now, rather than four students gathering around one small computer to work on a group project, those same students can connect a single computer to the TV and have their document or presentation displayed for all to easily see. Access to information means that more voices can join the conversation and play an active role in scholarship.
Hailey Wardall and Aubri Roberds (pictured above) love that the handful of new, soft-seating areas have created an environment more similar to a college than a high school. Working in partnerships or in groups is more comfortable and more fun, they both noted, adding, “…we rarely came in here before the renovation — and now that it’s so nice we wish it could’ve happened sooner!”
Both girls echoed sentiments of feeling more respected after the school gave them the responsibility to steward this special area. “The school gave us more responsibility to take care of this place, and knowing they trust us makes me feel respected. This new media center is a big step up for our high school and a better way to learn. For instance, right now we’re collaborating on the yearbook layout and it will be great to come in here and work on our slideshows and theme presentations together.”
Lexi Petersen, Courtney Talsma, Aubrey Brown, and Breanna Hansen (working above) said they were “Shocked!!” when first seeing the completed space saying, “We didn’t think we’d get all this!”
Breanna summed it up perfectly with her comments. “It will bring more group work into our learning and into our school. Whereas before we might have had to crowd around one computer, now we can all see what we’re working on and we can all add our input.”
Scores of tables and chairs on casters were also added, allowing students to reconfigure their workspace to fit their needs. Floor space can be easily opened up if physical space is demanded, and groups can come together by merely rolling tables and moving chairs. Additionally, desktop computers were situated in an open section of the media center to preserve a traditional “lab” housed within the media center.
“I think our media center more closely resembles many business environments now. More and more we’re seeing offices move away from cubicles to a more collaborative setting, and providing that for our high schoolers is just one more way that we’re preparing them to be team players and contributing group members after they graduate, “ explained Jenison High School principal Brandon Graham.
“I’m just so proud that we can bring a state-of-the-art learning setting to the students of Jenison High School. We hope it will invigorate them and spur discovery, creative thinking, and problem solving.”