- Sponsorship -

South Campus Features New Space, New Ways of Learning


Throughout the new Caledonia High School South Campus, students gathered in groups, busy working in open spaces. The setting resembled groups of professionals from Google or Steelcase, as students worked on projects individually and together, plugged in their tech tools and moved about thanks to mobile, flexible furniture.

Students kicked off the 2017-2018 school year using the nearly complete two-story facility, next to the main campus at 9050 Kraft Ave. SE. Building highlights include:

  • science and art wings
  • 23 classrooms
  • a modern media center with flexible furniture
  • an auxiliary gymnasium
  • a mini auditorium
  • a Black Box Theater for small productions
  • a cafeteria
  • two large project rooms bordered by smaller break-out spaces for small group work and lots of collaborative space building-wide

Students liked the new space. “It feels much more open,” said sophomore Teresa Clemens. “I feel like it’s more hands-on,” said junior Annalise Runkel. “There are going to be more learning opportunities brought to kids,” added sophomore Destiney Pelton.

Open space with high ceilings and natural light are design features of the new building

Space for New Ideas

Indeed, the limited spaces, tight hallways and rigid desks of schools a generation ago have been kissed goodbye in Caledonia, and students are catching on fast. The school’s design, with all its highlights, will accommodate Project Based Learning (PBL), a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and then responding to questions, problems or challenges. The method is becoming increasingly popular, and used at Innovation High School, located on Kent ISD’s campus. It often involves partnering with businesses, working to solve community problems and finding other real-world applications for learning.

“(The building) was designed with collaborative learning in mind and for creating unique spaces for us to practice some new instructional strategies,” said Principal Brady Lake. “We are beginning to incorporate (PBL) in different classrooms…It is an opportunity to teach 21st century skills that we know are so important in today’s economy and today’s world.”

Fourteen high school teachers attended PBL training this summer at Buck Institute for Education, in Novato, California. Administrators are discussing adding a PBL cohort, where high schools students can opt to learn all their core classes through PBL instruction, in the future.

Ninth and 10th grade English teacher Theresa Yonker, who attended the training, is already testing PBL in her class. “Having the collaborative work spaces is huge. Prior to having those spaces, we were tied into those four walls and it made it difficult to branch out with group work and being able to have students work out of the box,” she said.

She was starting a project tied to the 9/11 terrorist attack using history and English by having student watch a documentary about the event and brainstorm ways to use what they learn to better the community.

“The new facility is certainly conducive to that type of program,” Lake said.

The South Campus also alleviates crowding at the main campus with room for 600 students and land for expansion. Ninth-through 12th-grade students walk between buildings for class.

The building was funded through a $41 million millage extension passed in 2014. Of that, $28 million was planned for high-school upgrades.

CONNECT

What is Project Based Learning?

Students are busy at work in the new open spaces at Caledonia High School South Campus

- Sponsorship -
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.

LATEST ARTICLES

Vaccine trial participant: ‘I really want to get back to normal’

Orchestra teacher and cellist Eric Hudson longs for the days when he can direct student musicians in concerts and tours and play in his own ensemble once again. To help speed that process along, he is participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial...

Longtime agriscience teacher earns honorary FFA degree

After 24 years of teaching, John Schut believes incorporating fun and service into education is more engaging for students than taking notes in a classroom...

Stress, studies and the pandemic: a steep learning curve

In response to the social and emotional impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rockford’s Developing Healthy Kids Campaign wants students and families to know they are not alone...

Health Department helps schools tackle challenges of instruction, during winter, in a pandemic

Working with the health department has been crucial in helping area school leaders understand the nature of COVID-19, the types of mitigation strategies that can be most effective and how to plan for the future...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Longtime agriscience teacher earns honorary FFA degree

After 24 years of teaching, John Schut believes incorporating fun and service into education is more engaging for students than taking notes in a classroom...

Senior Scouts return to grade school, sprinkling kindness

Four former Dutton Elementary students are using their platform as Girl Scouts to inspire kindness in younger generations of Wildcats...

Major factor in school closings: evidence of virus spread

While the Kent County Health Department is working hard with superintendents to keep schools open, sometimes closing is the best way to mitigate spread...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS