Creating a space where students can explore together.
Wyoming Public Schools wanted to create spaces that gave students the opportunity to explore, create, and collaborate with one another in an environment that is both safe and inviting. At Wyoming, finding ways to foster changing perceptions and instill community pride are at the heart of what we were trying to accomplish with the newly designed high school. Located in the largest suburb of metropolitan Grand Rapids, two high schools in the Wyoming district were merged several years ago, and they were struggling to build an identity with a new mascot, colors, and branding. Transforming a severely aging building with small classrooms and narrow corridors into an environment that is both safe and inviting, through the creation of new spaces that give students the opportunity to explore, create, and collaborate with one another, required a multi-phase renovation and new construction. The district wanted the new high school to create a sense of pride in the community and change the way students and faculty identify themselves – and the community sought to invest in the future success of the students enrolled in the district’s schools.
As part of a $79.5 million school improvement bond passed in 2018, the high school underwent a two-phase makeover, including a 30-classroom addition, creating more flexible, creative space in the existing building, and athletic facilities upgrades. The design includes spaces that are adaptable to work with changing educational models and the ways in which students learn. This new addition and renovation establish spaces that promote learning through collaboration and foster a new sense of pride and identity in the community. The additional space will also benefit the Middle College program, which enrolls ~200 students. Since 2009, students who commit to five years of high school can earn a diploma and an associate degree through a partnership with Grand Rapids Community College.
After demolition of a portion of the building that was no longer viable, a two-story addition that added 30 classrooms for grades 10-12 was constructed, connecting the site. Phase 2 saw a brand-new café, new offices, and new common areas, followed by construction of dedicated science, arts, and technology wings, and a new, connected stadium and athletics facilities – designed with an intentional desire to use the space in a way that’s better for the building as well as the students and teachers who occupy it every day. Nothing about the old building was recognizable to students as they entered the renovated space for the first time, creating an immediately stronger sense of pride among the students.
The placement of the new building addition created an L-shaped courtyard ideal for outdoor learning and student gathering, which students didn’t have before. Within the buildings, teachers can flex classroom spaces and supervise students in corridors and common areas that have the capability to become extended learning areas for small group or solo learning. A large learning staircase in the academic area allows for more streamlined traffic flow and transparently connects students on both floors. Strategically placed glass windows and partitions allow for natural light to enter the entire space and ensure higher visibility for a more secure environment. Even the furniture in the extended learning areas is flexible and moveable for students to create learning spaces that best suit their needs. When students are given ownership of a space to truly make it their own, they understand that freedom and have a greater sense of pride in their school.
By creating equity in the new and renovated spaces of the school and reorganizing the building into a multi-use facility of classrooms surrounding collaborative learning environments, the amenities and technological enhancements are accessible to all students. The centralized space is a visual and physical connection to collaborative, flexible learning that instills school pride and stirs curiosity for students and the community alike.
Take a look at virtual reality tour of the spaces.
Hear more about the impact this project has had on the lives of Wyoming students and staff!
I love the collaborative spaces. What a great opportunity for students to be able to learn together. I love the openness of the whole thing, and I'm proud that Wyoming provided the opportunity for the students at Wyoming High School.Joshua Baumbach, High School Principal, Wyoming Public Schools