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New spaces make for maximum creativity, collaboration

Forest Hills — When Eastern Middle and High School opened in 2004, the area designated for the industrial arts classroom was essentially just that: classroom space. Over the years, a second classroom was added for the increasingly popular program, but it still lacked ideal equipment for dust control and space for optimal working conditions. 

This year, the industrial arts and visual art programs at Eastern are housed in a new, state-of-the-art addition, thanks to a $130 million bond improvement project approved by voters in 2018.

“It wasn’t great,” admitted Richard Butcher, in his seventh year as an industrial arts teacher at the school, about the former space. “Now, it’s just a real shop.” 

Eastern High art students at work in that department’s new space

The new 5,580 square-foot wing includes the industrial arts space with a brand-new wood shop, dust collector and paint booth. Cord reels hang from the roof deck inside the spacious, two-story-ceilinged industrial arts room, so students can move equipment wherever they need. The dust collector connects to wood shop equipment to keep the space clean. A glass-front garage door allows materials to be delivered directly to the space, and provides fresh air and outdoor learning in good weather. The paint booth area has exhaust fans and hoods for ventilation while students create their artwork.

Across the hall, an art studio with an equally high ceiling features a kiln room, large windows for natural light and a garage door.  

Other projects that are part of the 2018 bond include new Project NEXT spaces at Northern High School. The construction team currently is focusing on transforming and upgrading four lab spaces – culinary arts, chemistry, biology and a shared storage room — two more classroom pods and a workshop. Those are on schedule to be completed by the end of December. 

For bond updates by district region, click here.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Kent ISD, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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