Small-town togetherness is reflected in the new school – School News Network


Sparta – English teacher Alec Dood, whose class recently shared the literary experience of “Glow Games” with Jenna Conlin’s class, said “Every student was engaged” in the ultimate blackout neon experience at Sparta Middle School.

While the students switched stations that included challenges such as cuppong, water bottle butting, soccer throwing, and bowling, they worked to identify literary terms.

The implementation of unique lesson times such as the glow games has been reinforced by the design of the new building. The middle school and the architecture and engineering office GMB, based in Holland, were honored by “Learning by design” a magazine highlighting unique K-12 and college building designs that best promote learning.

“It’s one thing to build a building, but it’s quite another to build one that not only works well but also reflects the values ​​of the children and the people who live in it,” said Brad Wood, director of Sparta Middle School.

“This is a small town with an enormous sense of togetherness that has been integrated into the design of this building.”

Space to study

Each classroom hallway has project rooms with easily sliding walls and furniture so teachers can expand their classrooms as needed.

“We can go to 10,000 square feet in minutes,” said Wood. “The room is designed to be flexible, and the type of teaching that can be carried out in this building is also flexible.”

An art student is working on capturing light

A recent business showcase presented by Conlin’s ELA students in collaboration with the West Michigan Business Association was an example of how the new spaces can be customized.

“Students had the opportunity to interview business leaders, examine the company’s goals and missions, and find out what makes West Michigan a great location for their business,” said Dood.

Staff and students attending the event had the opportunity to learn about local businesses, vote for the most effective presentations, and see sixth and seventh graders showcasing authentic work created in a project-based tutorial.

“It’s one thing to build a building, but quite another thing to build one that not only works well, but also reflects the values ​​of the children and the people who live in it.”

– Brad Wood principal of Sparta Middle School

The rooms affect how students work, Wood said. “The light, the free spaces and the access to technology enable better learning and have a positive effect on behavior. That gives the curriculum a unique energy. “

Art and photography teacher Julie Aitken said the design of the space allowed her to “give lessons that encourage students to think outside the box”.

Tables on wheels and adjustable lighting were suitable for a “light painting” project, for example, in which the students used a slower shutter speed on the camera to capture light trails and create a 3D sphere effect.

A source of optimism

The new middle school was part of a $ 58.6 million bond that was passed in 2016. It opened in the fall of 2020, at a time when the districts weren’t even sure if students would enter the building. While it seemed disappointing at the time not to have an open house for the community and taxpayers who voted for funding, the extra space was welcomed and made for easier social distancing rules during school hours.

But as difficult as the first year was, the specially designed study room seemed and remains a ray of hope in the district, said Wood.

“It served as a source of optimism when people needed something,” he said. “The whole district is proud and grateful for this place.”

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