Grandville — Senior Arieanna Endicott said she was excited to spend her last year practicing and competing as a RoboDawg in a brand new robotics competition center, housed in the newly constructed Grandville Middle School.
“We’ve been waiting for this building for a while and I’m looking forward to hosting competitions and practicing in general,” she said. “It will be substantially easier with more room.”
Her teammate, junior Alyssa Spence, said it will be great for the team to have its own space and not have to do any more late-night setting up or tearing down before and after practice.
Last week, Board of Education President Kim Klein cut the ribbon and welcomed the community to tour the new seventh- and eighth-grade building, located at 4900 Canal Ave. SW, alongside fellow board members and Superintendent Roger Bearup.
The RoboDawgs’ new home is the first facility of its kind in the country, head coach Doug Hepfer said.
The district’s first robotics team began in 1998 and today, the program consists of more than 100 teams, involving students from second through twelfth grade.
The program also received a $125,000 donation from the Bradford White Corporation, spread out over five years.
“This is the first time we’ve had a corporate sponsor, and we are super grateful for that,” coach Mike Evele said. “It’s amazing, and the uproar of support has been incredible. It really shows us how much the district and community values our program.”
The competition center has power outlets in the concrete floors, all built with robotics in mind, high ceilings for drone competitions and a maker space set to open in October.
Collaboration and Connections
Four years in the making, the new middle school building and robotics facility was funded by the $57 million bond proposal approved by voters in 2019. The district worked with GMB Architects to design a building that encourages and supports learning and working together.
“We value connections and relationships and collaboration, and in our new building, we see spaces that foster this,” Principal Ken See said. “What a gift. It is so exciting to see the culmination of all the sketching and conversations, to see it all go from paper to dirt to bricks.”
The new school features collaborative learning spaces and project rooms with cafe-style seating and Bluetooth capabilities. Students will be able to project from their Chromebooks onto computer screens mounted on the walls.
Visible from the front door, a large stairwell leads from the cafeteria down to the media center. See said he hopes the “Learning Stairs” will serve as a small presentation or lecture space for classes.
He added: “We’re going to give you the resources; now go out and learn together.”