Staff Editorial: Our proposal for new learning spaces

Principal Amy Murphy is in discussion with District Office to begin removing lockers either over the summer or during the 2018-19 school year. The administration has a tentative plan to turn the freshman, sophomore and senior locker areas into flexible learning spaces.

These spaces would be alternatives to having classes in the same rooms every day and would offer new spots to eat and work during Husky Halftime. The junior locker area will be kept in place as the central location for student lockers.

“This year I was standing up in the freshman locker area, really watching how many kids really use their lockers [and I thought] ‘Are we really using lockers?’” Murphy said.

After observing students during passing periods and throughout each day, Murphy found only 26 percent of freshmen, sophomores and juniors use their lockers more than once a day. This gave her the opportunity to think of a way to incorporate alternative learning spaces.

However, she has been wanting to hear from students about how to fill the spaces with furniture and how it should look.

Staff members from The Express toured brand-new Olathe West High School for inspiration as that school was designed with multiple, alternative learning spaces. Based on that tour, we have a plan for how these learning spaces should look.

Because the spaces will be used during Husky Halftime as well as during class, hard surfaces with no carpet is a must, as this will put less of a strain on the custodial staff.

The seating should be easy to clean, as well. We tried the big swivel chairs at Olathe West, which were comfortable even with harder cushions. This was a nice break to sitting in rigid chairs all day in class. Hard-surfaced seating would also be sturdier as opposed to bean bag chairs or traditional couches.

To make the spaces conducive to work in, having spots for students to collaborate would be beneficial. Spaces for whiteboards or whiteboard walls and Apple TVs with AirPlay capabilities could give students room to spread out their work and display it for group collaboration. Having small cafe-style tables for two people would allow partners to work on a project, and bigger tables would be great to have for teaching instruction and collaboration with larger groups.

Some of the most important things to keep are the windows in the senior and sophomore areas. Having natural light helps produce a nice environment that also allows a view outside. The windows also provide a welcome break from being trapped in four walls for most of the day.

Murphy said it is crucial for people with ideas to come to the administration. It is only through collaboration that we can create a space students enjoy using.

We encourage students to take their ideas to their StuGo representatives or to the administration.