Summer Renovations

A look into new student areas coming summer ’22

Alex Reschke , Staffer

“The inspiration behind us doing these student areas was more to like, keep kids in the school and keep them wanting to do work, wanting to collaborate, be more social, it’s trying to create more of a student union feel,” principal Chuck Puga said. “It’s going to be a cool space for kids. I’m just gonna tell you that right now. It’s gonna be a cool space for kids.”

A new year and a new makeover is on its way for students. New student designated areas are coming to the building, with some lined along the resource centers. The student areas were designed for the sole purpose of students being able to be independent, but not alone in the workspace. These communal areas are very similar to the bottom level of the cafeteria, with flexible seating and tables. 

It’s starting to look like the hallways are finally becoming a destination, these areas are designed for students to learn to be responsible with their free time without having to be monitored or being stuck within a closed space. Inspiration for the entire look and feel of the area was to model open areas that college campuses have, where peers can come together in groups or remain independent. Plans for these areas include TVs where students and teachers can display presentations and slideshows. 

With a new spot for kids to hang out, it’s not likely all the faculty can get behind the idea, as some classes are feet within the resource centers where the areas are set to go. “I don’t think by and large it’ll be an issue as far as hiring people out there, as long as they’re doing, you know, doing it the buffalo way, and being respectful. It shouldn’t be an issue,” social studies teacher Gerald McCullar said. Whose classroom isn’t even ten feet away from a resource center. 

“When they were talking about the design, I really wanted to advocate having some sort of noise separator. Something like a wall, just as long as there’s glass that extends farther out than what we’ve had before,” Fitzgerald said, expressing her feelings about disruptions to classrooms near the student areas. “Just so that there is this barrier between the students center and then where the academic learning is going to happen, and from the renderings and I’ve seen, it looks like they have implemented some of that, just to help to cut down the noise.”

Of course, these student areas are not limited to just the students. Teachers and staff and more than welcome to accompany students, and even take their classes there for a presentation. “I would consider taking a class presentation if they have the TV setup,” McCullar said.  “I mean, I’m always in the hallway anyways, chit-chatting. So if I saw you sitting in this spot, I would definitely stop for a second and have a conversation.”

When looking at the pros and cons of these student areas, across the board staff seem to say that the pros outweigh the cons. “Again, I think the con is we’re giving kids a spot to not go to class. My classroom is right outside of one of these, potentially it could be disruptive, but I have no problem popping my head out. So it’s not that big of a deal,” McCullar said. 

“I mean, I do know that one of the drawbacks for some departments is that they are losing some of the workspaces that teachers have like so for example, in the Math Resource Center, where Miss Roberts, Bruce and four other teachers have their desks in their office, that area is going to be eliminated. So they’re going to have to shuffle and move to different offices within the building,” Fitzgerald explained. The areas take up a lot of space, therefore some teachers will be moving from their offices; However, the teachers moving are glad the areas are coming. “I don’t necessarily know if it’s a drawback, it’s kind of just one of those things. That’s like a hiccup that’s in the way,” Fitzgerald said. 

Funding for these student areas comes from the 2018-2019 bond, in which the district and its schools were granted money for renovations and innovation centers, as well as repairs and remodels. Renovations are scheduled right when our students leave the building in late May and early June of 2022, and according to the schedule will be completed a week before next year’s students are back. 

“It doesn’t cost Smoky Hill anything, that money is district money that our taxpayers approved. Every high school is getting some kind of remodel,” Puga said. “Some of it’s going to be totally gutted and remodeled into student-made spaces. What happened is every high school had X amount of dollars to do a renovation within their building and create more spaces for kids.” The bond granted money to other departments for our school such as HVAC renovations and general repair. 

The future of Smoky Hill is looking stylish. Seeing how staff are pumped, it’s inevitable that the students will feel the same.

More information on the bond: https://www.cherrycreekschools.org/cms/lib/CO50000184/Centricity/Domain/5267/2020%20Budget%20Bond%20and%20Innovation%20Recommendations.pdf