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New Building will Enable New Ways of Teaching


Caledonia High School Principal Brady Lake sees the new high school building, under construction next to the main high school, as much more than just added space.

Its layout and design will be perfect for student collaboration, inquiry-based learning, problem-solving and helping students become equipped with skills they need for future jobs, Lake said.

“The essence of that new building is it really is designed for 21st-century learning,” he said. “That space will allow us to use instructional strategies that traditional space doesn’t allow for.”

The building, currently under construction and on pace to open next school year, will be like another wing of the existing high school, at 9050 Kraft Ave. SE. Though the two buildings are not connected, ninth-through 12th-grade students will walk between them for class.

With capacity for 600 students, the building also will free up space in the main high school, which is over capacity. About 1,500 students are enrolled at the school, built in 2004, and the district continues to grow, Lake said.

The $24.6 million building is possible through a $41 million millage extension passed in 2014.

Lake said students are in need of instruction that goes much deeper than content. The right design can facilitate that kind of learning.

“To be competitive in our global economy you have to have critical-thinking skills, strong communication skills, be able to work in teams and collaborate with partners, and be creative problem-solvers,” he said, “Information is at our fingertips now, so it’s not just about giving (students) content information. It’s what can you do with that information? How can you apply it? How do you transfer it to new situations?”

Science Gets a Boost

Lake said the 20 classrooms, including six for science, project rooms, collaborative work rooms and open space, will provide opportunities tied to new Next Generation Science Standards, new social studies standards, group learning, and potentially new courses and programs. The building will be outfitted for the latest technology.

Also, a new classroom for cognitively impaired students will better serve their needs. The media center will have a relaxed feeling with movable furniture perfect for group work, and another gymnasium will provide more space for physical-education instruction.

Science teacher Jon Kendall said the new space will allow students to take science way beyond the textbook. “The best way to learn science is to do science,” he said.

He also looks forward to collaboration. Science students may team up with math students for projects that overlap because space easily allows it.

“This new building is a fantastic opportunity for all of us, and should be great for our kids,” Kendall added. “We are all very excited to get settled in.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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