Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2001

New school’s design aims to ease cramped halls

October 18, 2001

When he can help it, Eudora High School art teacher Gary Hinman avoids a certain area of the school.

"The freshman hallway is just a zoo during the passing periods," Hinman said. "That place really gets jammed up. If it's during a passing period, I just wait to go."

Freshman Kevin Abel has no choice but to deal with the cramped situation.

"I always say I have an advantage being small," Abel joked.

With the bond election approaching, a teacher and student reflected on how their lives would be different in a new high school.

Having been in the district for about 20 years, Hinman has seen how the district changed when it moved into the current building. As a freshman, Abel could be in the new high school as an upperclassman, allowing him to see how new facilities would change the way he participates in choir and drama and utilizes the technology in which he's so interested.

Teachers and students will have a different experience as they walk through the doors.

Rather than coming in a common front door, Abel would use the students' entrance on one side of the courtyard while Hinman would probably use the public entrance close to the office where he usually has to stop in the morning anyway, or the door by his new art room.

For some teachers, new classrooms would mean a new way of teaching.

Whereas Hinman's current classroom is large, complete with lots of windows and a view to the countryside, it still can't accommodate all the students wanting to take art. Hinman has to squeeze painting, drawing, pottery and ceramics in the same classroom. At the new building, some of his students could work on sculpture in the three dimensional art room while his other students painted or drew in the two dimensional art room.

"That will help me a lot," Hinman said. "When we do pottery, it makes a mess of the room. The drawing students' white paper gets messy with clay dust."

For students, new classrooms mean a new way of learning.

When he goes to choir class, Abel would get more room to work with. In some choir classes, he said, students have to share folders of music.

"It's pretty much elbow-to-elbow," he said.

Now, Abel and other fine arts students can rehearse and perform in the school's auditorium, a feature that wouldn't initially be included in a new school. For practices, Abel said he could work on details of a play in the building's black box room, like a miniature stage.

Not having an auditorium won't change performances too much, Abel said. If and when an auditorium is added, he said it would be a welcome addition.

"I'm sure they'd make it the best for acoustics and the seating of it bigger and better for more people to come and enjoy the show," Abel said.

Although Hinman said students already use the patio area outside his classroom for art projects as well as to eat lunch, Abel said a courtyard would change the way students socialize before, during and after school.

"You come 10 minutes before because there's not really anything available," he said.

Students can squeeze into the commons or sit in the hallway, and that's about it. Abel would like a more traditional school campus that makes students want to stay there before and after school.

"Having a courtyard is a place you could hang out outside," he said.

Hinman agreed students need a place to make school inviting.

"People say, 'Why do you need the courtyard in a cold climate?'" Hinman said.

Getting fresh air and sunlight will make students feel good, he said.

Plans for the new school also include the infrastructure for expanded technology. Right now, Hinman has an IMac computer in his classroom but no permanent lab for students.

Although it's not an area he's particularly familiar with, the industrial technology classroom next door could allow art classes to explore computer-generated art.

"I've seen some really good stuff," Hinman said. "A lot of the schools are beginning to use computer generated images. In the professional field, I think it's the wave of the future."

Abel, who plans to study computer programming, already takes advantage of the technology available to him at the current high school. The only problem he sees is that many of the school's computers are Macintoshes, which aren't as common as PCs in the work world.

The commons area, which would be bigger than the current facility, would be large enough to hold prom and would be more centrally located, Hinman said. Aside from the larger scale, Abel doesn't see how the commons would be used any differently than it is now as a place to eat, socialize and have meetings.

Sporting events in the gym won't change much for the fans, but for players practices will differ dramatically. Having the flexibility to create separate practice areas will keep balls on the right side of the court, Abel said.

In addition to the physical differences in the school day, Hinman thinks a new school would change the way students, faculty and the community view their school, as they did when they moved into the current building.

"The kids take more pride in what they're doing," he said. "I'm a detention hall teacher, and detentions have gone down since we've been in this building."

If this district could get middle school kids into the current high school building, Hinman said he would expect similar results.

Building a new, state-of-the art school wouldn't change the tight-knit community feel of the Eudora schools, Abel said. Instead, he said he liked the way the supporters talked about the school not just as a district building but as a gathering place for the whole community.

"It would make them feel like they're not just a little school but like they're growing," Abel said.

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