The Design Components Every High School Gymnasium Needs

Whether you’re redesigning or renovating a high school gymnasium, or building a new structure from scratch, there are a lot of things to consider. Most importantly, you need to remember that a high school gym is so much more than just a place for sporting events; it’s a place for communities to gather. From the school community to the larger neighboring community, a gymnasium needs to be able to adapt quickly, offering places that accommodate a wide-range of needs – both the expected and the unexpected.

Main Gymnasium

The main part of the gymnasium will be where the big events take place. From basketball and volleyball games to school assemblies and dances, this space needs to consider flooring, acoustics, and the overall “wow” factor. Many older gyms don’t have a big enough clearance around the perimeter of the main court, something that should be considered in the design. The perimeter of the main competition court needs to have enough room for the team seating, judges’ and scorers’ table referees and spectator passage, etc. Per the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) guidelines, the perimeter of a basketball court requires a minimum of 3 feet but preferably 10 feet.

Some other questions to ask when designing the main gym:

  • How will students feel when they walk into their gym?
  • How can this main gym attract coaches?
  • How will rival schools feel?
Seating

While bleachers are an affordable option, some schools are opting for more luxurious stadium-style seating, complete with sunken seats and armrests. Depending on the size of the school and the community’s overall need for a gymnasium, the amount of seating needed will vary. To determine how much seating you will need, the following questions must by answered:

  • Is the gym a PE gym or a competition gym?
  • What events will this gym be designed for?
  • Does the school want to host sectionals at this gym?
  • What is the attendance history of this school/gym?
Accessibility

Everywhere on your design plan needs to be easily accessible for everyone. To make sure you’re not overlooking anything, put yourself in the shoes of every person who enters the gym – from the student athletes to individuals in wheelchairs, to teachers, parents and elderly spectators. The flow of your design should make it easy to get from one place to the next, all the way from the entry to the seats and back to the locker rooms.

Locker Rooms

Locker rooms are an essential part of any high school gym design. The size will depend on the overall student body. At the very least, locker rooms need to include lockers, benches, bathrooms, showers and larger spaces for pre- and post-game meetings. Most locker rooms also have offices inside, which make sure there’s appropriate supervision for the students. There can also be smaller locker rooms included for the referees – a place for them to get ready and store their belongings safely.

Public Facilities

High school gymnasiums need to include public facilities for guests and spectators. Typically at the front of the gym or at least very easy to find, these public facilities, like restrooms, meeting spaces, a public lobby, ticketing, and concessions, make enjoying games and events at the gym easy and stress-free.

Offices

In addition to the smaller “supervision” offices built into the locker rooms, larger offices for head coaches and athletic directors should be included in the design of a high school gym. Often upstairs, the best offices have windows and plenty of room, which can help entice the best of the best coaches and staff to the school.

Training Facilities

Gyms should include training facilities for the students to use at practice and before and after school. These facilities often have weight training and cardio equipment, as well as places to stretch and do drills. Many high school gyms feature a smaller auxiliary gym that can be used by teams when the main gym is in use for a game or event or gym classes during school hours.

Lighting

Although fluorescent lighting is common, newer gyms are opting for LED lighting. Some high school gyms are being designed to combine natural light with LED lights to conserve energy and reduce overall costs. Using natural light can also create a beautiful effect, which is why we incorporate clerestory windows in our new gym designs. To minimize glare, we can use frosted glass or polycarbonate wall panels to provide natural light without glare.

Storage

Creating enough storage in a high school gym is necessary so that different events can happen easily. The more convenient this storage is to access, the more easily the gym will be able to adapt (and the more willing volunteers will be to help relocate equipment). The majority of new storage areas in gyms are designed with rolling or garage-like doors so that large equipment can move in and out easily.

Because gyms are such hubs, it’s important that every high school gymnasium design considers the needs of the school and the community. When done well, new gyms become a place of pride and somewhere everyone looks forward to going.

Want to learn more about our experience? Click the magazine below:

Workforce Skills Training in K-12 Facilities

Since 2011, 11.5 million jobs have been created in the United States for workers with education past high school. However, only about 47% of working-aged adults in Indiana currently have degrees. One way to fill this gap is to include workforce-ready spaces and programs directly within high schools. Think auto shops, TV broadcasting spaces, welding labs, hair salons, etc.

We touch on why it is important to teach these real-world skills, the different focus areas, design considerations, and our project experience in this magazine below:

If you have questions or want to know how we can help with your next project, reach out!

5 Tips for Designing More Interactive Classrooms

Interactive learning is one of the best ways for teachers and educators to make sure their students are actually grasping the knowledge and skills they are sharing.

An effort to combat Mark Twain’s famous sentiment of higher education being “a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes without passing through the brains of either,” interactive learning encourages students and educators to get actively involved. In fact, some of the best interactive classrooms can, at first glance, look chaotic because of this type of engagement and often physical movement.

But, as research shows, not giving students an opportunity to interact is likely to impede their ability to really learn – not just memorize and repeat. And teachers agree. In a recent survey, 97% of all educators said that interactive learning experiences undoubtedly lead to improved learning.

Here are some tips for building and designing more interactive classrooms that will benefit both teachers and their students.

1. Provide Flexibility

An interactive classroom needs to be a welcoming, easy-to-use classroom. When designing the space, it’s important to make sure all students, including ones with disabilities, find it easy to move around, join in conversations, sit at tables, etc. Furniture layouts should be flexible, going from lecture-based to project-based collaboration spontaneously. The more a classroom is able to adapt to the subject or project of the day, and whims of the teacher and students (think about including elements like movable tables, rolling/swiveling chairs, comfortable furniture), the more interactive it will be.

2. Smart Surfaces

From large interactive walls to mobile smart boards, the surfaces in the classroom need to be functional and attractive. Teachers should also have access to multiple surfaces, preferably not just at the front of the room, to help facilitate conversations and offer guidance for specific subject material. Increasing flexibility even more, mobile teacher presentation carts allow the teacher to un-tether from a wall location and move about the room.

Mary Castle Elementary

Multiple Writing Surfaces & Mobile Technology Boards for Teachers – Mary Castle Elementary

3. Adjustable Lighting

Light plays a big role in the classroom environment. To help students feel comfortable and relaxed while interacting with each other and teachers, design lighting fixtures that can be adjusted and controlled. Dimmers as well as ambient lighting, not just the standard overhead lights, allow the environment to be changed as needed and will better facilitate conversations, presentations, etc.

4. Maximize Visibility

The best interactive classrooms don’t have a designated “front of the classroom”. Create spaces with your design that allow student seating to be optimized from every point of the room. Students should feel connected with their teachers – not separate from them. By eliminating the ability for students to be placed in designated “back” and “front” of the classroom, design can help equalize the playing field for all students.

5. Technological Savvy

Almost all modern design incorporates the latest technological needs, but perhaps it’s most important when applied to the classroom setting. In order to create interactive classrooms, technology almost always needs to be incorporated. Wireless technology provides the most flexibility in connecting students and teachers to projectors, monitors, and each other for sharing work. Provide multiple charging locations, including floor boxes with USB ports, throughout the room for both students and teachers.

While every classroom can be tailored to specific subjects and grade levels, all interactive classrooms will share the same basic fundamentals. And, because the best interactive designs allow space to be easily reconfigured, these types of classrooms are highly adaptable, making them a great asset for schools across the country.

 

If you think we would be a good fit for your next project, reach out to us!

A Word from our Owners – Greenwood Community Schools

Mike Hildebrand

Mike Hildebrand is a retired Indiana State Police Detective with over 23 years of service. He began his career in education with the Pike County School Corporation in Petersburg, Indiana in 2003. Mike was hired by Greenwood Community Schools in 2014 as the Director of Operations. He is the Administrator over the facilities, grounds, maintenance, transportation, and School Safety. Mike enjoys everything about the Greenwood Community Schools System because it is a great place to work and a great place for an education. He says it is a corporation where everyone feels like family. Mike and his wife Ruthann reside in Greenwood, and they have four grown children and 10 grandchildren. Of course, he is also a huge Alabama Football fan. Roll Tide!

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When you walk through the new Greenwood Middle School, you can easily forget that you are even in a K-12 facility. The school is designed around a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) curriculum that engages students and staff in project-based learning opportunities. All 160,000 square feet, each of the three floors, every single educational space was built with the student in mind. We wanted to talk with Mike Hildebrand to see how the engineering systems bring everything together, creating an efficient learning environment for all.

Greenwood Middle School

Tell us a little about the why Greenwood needed a new Middle School.

I can say the new Middle School was an absolute necessity, not just for our students and staff, but for the community. If you hadn’t seen the old school, just imagine décor from the 60’s to the 90’s, old restrooms, dark hallways, outdated cabinets in the classrooms, poor lighting, and few windows. The HVAC system was as old as the student’s parents and some grandparents. This new middle school is a better setting for our students. The better the learning atmosphere, the more desire there is to attend school. This gets teachers more excited to teach. Even the food tastes better in the new cafeteria!

The entire school is now welcoming, has easy lines of sight, and the aesthetics are wonderful. Just enough to make it appealing without the cost of fancy features.

Have you seen an increased level of occupant comfort in the new building?

Comfort is a must in every classroom setting. The Siemens control system is wonderful. The features are easy to understand, and changing a room or area’s temperature is a breeze. The ability to go to a night or unoccupied set back has saved us a considerable amount on utilities as well. Our custodial and maintenance staff dove in head first and are continuing to learn new tricks every day. The air quality is also a vast improvement from our old middle school, which had some sections starting from 1960’s.

The design of the facility itself makes the visual observation of students during the passing periods simple. One faculty member can stand at the junction of the two wings and see both halls from one vantage point. The design and features of today’s school has changed so much since I was in school, back in the 60’s and 70’s. The newest technology is used in every classroom, students are learning robotics at a much younger age, and every aspect of this facility was discussed to determine if this was going to benefit our students for the better. This facility was designed just to do that very thing. It was done the Greenwood way.

How has the learning environment improved daily life here at Greenwood Middle School – for the students, teachers, and those maintaining the new systems?

As you know, lighting is an important feature in any educational facility. Having gone from our old school’s lighting to new LED is absolutely a huge improvement, both for the students and staff. The automatic light features that turn on/off upon entry was a huge success with our staff. The dimmer capabilities are used almost daily by all of our staff while instruction is taking place with the overhead units onto the whiteboard marker walls. Each classroom has outdoor light access as well, offering the inviting ray of sunshine in for our students.

The HVAC units are definitely a well-received item and the biggest change from old univent systems to the new buildings system. No more high fan speed noise disrupting instruction, and no more too cold or too hot depending on where you sit in the room. The capability to change the temp + or – 3 degrees at the thermostat is awesome. Students learn better when they are comfortable in their environment.

In the old school, each classroom had a univent system. When there was a failure you could count on at least a 4-hour repair as you had to pull the unit from the wall, make the repairs, and then put it back in place. What a difference the vertical unit ventilation systems have made. Easy access, easier repairs, and less time consuming for our maintenance staff. Even the filter change is simpler and can take only a couple of minutes.

In general, what have you heard from staff, teachers, parents, and students about the new school?

Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKoninck and Asst. Superintendent Mr. Todd Pritchett were an integral part of the success of the construction and completion of our new school. All of the physical aspects–the aesthetics, flooring, cafeteria area, media center and classrooms–have been praised by students, staff, and community. Our easy access points for the office area during the school day or the secondary entrance for our indoor athletic events are very welcoming without going over the top in costs.

The pride of Greenwood Community Schools has once again peaked to the point of happiness. Even our residential neighbors have had nothing but good things to say about what once used to be a farm field to now becoming a modern and beautiful school facility. In short, no one is more pleased than our students, our parents, our staff and our school leaders. We could not have hoped for more than what we’ve received in our new Greenwood Middle School.

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates, specifically the engineering team?

My experience of working with Schmidt Associates has been wonderful, from the design portion all the way through to completion. Even with minor punch list items remaining a year in now, the cooperative effort has been amazing.

As issues would arise during the construction, the Schmidt team would provide detailed alternatives to the issues, have quick remedies as a solution, and implement the changes into the plan. Our relationship with Schmidt Associates has become one of trust, and their team of experts have addressed our needs and concerns in a timely manner.

Greenwood Community Schools has also used Schmidt Associates on other projects, and we are in the process of beginning yet another project at our High School.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!

 

Q&A Session with Kyle Miller

Whether it’s the management of a multi-million dollar school, creation of the music behind project videos, or poker on a Friday night, Kyle Miller—Principal and Project Manager at Schmidt Associates—puts full effort into all he does.

 

 

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Shelbyville, Indiana and have held a full-time job since I was 16. I started out working at a grocery store and continued working there all through college and even four years after I landed my first “real” job with a civil engineering firm.

What is your passion, outside of work? Kyle and his guitar

I have always had a passion for music, whether it is piano or guitar, composition or performance, and it’s been a constant throughout life.

I loved playing guitar and going to concerts with friends in high school, and I guess it just continued into my adult life. Around 2000, I joined my first real band, Magnolia. We performed southern and classic rock at local bars and parties around town. After that band had ran its course, I joined Throwback Jack with the drummer from Magnolia. That was a lot of fun.

Additionally, I started playing in the praise band at my church. I played about 49 of the 52 weeks out of the year for 13 years. Between practices on Wednesday nights and Sunday morning services, it was a lot of work. But perhaps the most exciting music I have ever played was for the Lebanon Educational Foundation Follies. For 12 years, I participated in this annual show where I was given 50 songs (generally Broadway show tunes) with sheet music that I had to learn in a week. It was fun and I developed many new relationships—but mostly, it was the biggest challenge, musically, I have ever had.

What inspires you?
I love getting to know people. So, I love pursuing a new opportunity or a new project. Of course, once the pursuit is over, I constantly worry about my new clients and delivering on the promises I made to them.

What’s your favorite thing to do downtown?
We actually moved downtown in 2014. The kids were out of high school and my wife and I were ready for a change from suburban life. We both like downtown—visiting and working—so we decided to build a house in Fall Creek Place. Interestingly, the house that is right next door to mine was the former home of Reverend Jim Jones. Don’t drink that Kool-Aid!

That said, we obviously spend a lot of time downtown. I love to eat lunch at Bru and dinner at Salt and we have season tickets to the Colts. We just love the city and all that it has to offer.

What’s something not everyone knows about you?
Not only do I play music, but I also compose. I had written a song for a country music band I played with. The lead singer from that group actually took the song—music and lyrics—to a professional producer/musician in Nashville and had it professionally recorded.

Do you have any hidden talents?
Not sure if it’s a talent, maybe a problem, but I play a lot of poker—and sometimes I win. I am a founding member, five-time winner, and PLA (Poker League Administrator) for the Premier Indy Men’s Poker Society (PIMPS).

Kyle and his wife, Amy have been married 23 years. They have three kids—Dustin, 30; Erin, 28; and Danielle, 26; and one granddaughter—Arianna, 10.

Kyle Miller's Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadDavid LoganTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffSteve SirokyJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie Layton, and Anna Marie Burrell

Q&A Session with Anna Marie Burrell

Anna Marie Burrell

From the infectious smile to the genuine care and concern for those around her to her constant flurry of activity, Anna Marie Burrell—K-12 Studio Leader and Principal-in-Charge—has a magnetic and energetic personality. Below, we try to get her to take a few minutes to just breathe and share a bit of her life.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Lantern Hills—an enchanted, undulating wooded neighborhood on the border of the then-active Ft. Benjamin Harrison. So, when I think back to my childhood, I remember sneaking tools out of dad’s workshop to build “forts” with my neighborhood friends for our imaginary secret society. P.I.G.s was the name of our secret group, code for Private Investigating Girls. Can you guess what our password was? We were headquartered—along with multiple expansion sites—throughout our forested world. P.I.G.s members were serious about our work and probably had too much fun torturing my brother by taking his favorite toys so we could later find them hidden up in trees.

I guess you can say that I have always been caught up in my imagination and drawn to those who have fun dreaming up new experiences.

And now?
This is my cheer squad:

Anna Marie Family

I married Tim in 1994, and we have two sons together — Sam (18) and Aaron (20). We have always been a close-knit family that loves to have fun. And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Eddie, my labradoodle. We love dressing him up, but I am not sure if he loves it as much as we do.

What inspires you?

The arts, specifically dance. To feed my need to keep moving, my parents introduced me to ballet. I was hooked and spent every minute I could at Butler University’s Jordan Academy of Dance learning from instructors of a multitude of global and cultural backgrounds. I learned I loved creating or telling stories without the use of words through dance. I loved, and still love, the emotion of dance and the lines, rhythms, surprises, and forms that are endless only to one’s imagination. As an architect, I have realized these same elements are key to the delivery of any successful design project.

My love for dance continues today as I am starting to get involved with Kids Dance Outreach (KDO)—an organization providing children, regardless of income, with an opportunity to learn and experience the joy of dance.

What do you do in your free time?
I love to jump on the back of our motorcycle with my husband, Tim, and just ride with no agenda. It snaps me into the happiest of moods.

Anna Marie Burrell Motorcycle

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d love to explore Southern France, though lately I’ve been obsessing with wanting to go dog sledding in the countryside around Quebec. To be clear, my idea of dog sledding includes blankets and hot chocolate while someone else “drives” the dogs for me.

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I’m never at my desk, instead I carry a backpack with scarves to hold my hair back. I never know when I might get whisked off on an impromptu motorcycle adventure.

So, have you guessed that P.I.G.s secret password yet? OINK!

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadDavid LoganTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffSteve SirokyJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin Shelley, and Eddie Layton

A Word from our Owners – Shelbyville Central Schools

David Adams, Shelbyville Central SchoolsDr. David Adams has 36 years of service in public school systems, all in Indiana. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education at Ball State University, Masters of Science from Indiana University, Ed. S from Ball State University, and Ph.D. in Education Administration from Indiana State University. He will retire next year, after completing his fourteenth year as superintendent of Shelbyville Central Schools. He and his wife, Dr. Cindy

Adams, have two married children and two grandchildren.

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When Marsh Supermarkets closed up shop in 2017, there have been numerous literal empty holes in the communities they served. A year later, there are still several dilapidated stores sitting as vacant eyesores around Indiana. However, some communities have taken initiative and capitalized on this large amount of empty potential.

We often look at historic structures as the best candidates for adaptive reuse, however, any underutilized facility could be a good potential reuse opportunity. Schmidt Associates has been fortunate to help reimagine a church into a dynamic bar/restaurant, a hospital into a top of the line Higher Education facility, an old bank into a beautiful lobby and social hub, and now we are turning our sights to a former strip mall.

An abandoned, 63,000-square-foot complex–once housing a Marsh grocery store, retail area, restaurant, movie rental store, and a bank–will be transforming into something usable for Shelbyville Central Schools and the community. A new preschool will go into the grocery store area, Senses space will go into the retail spaces, and a bank will turn into administrative offices for the school corporation. Here at Schmidt Associates, we were up to the challenge of turning neglected, wide-open retail space into something productive for the community. Mayor Tom DeBaun said in his interview with The Shelbyville News, “with the plans they have, the things they are going to do for that facility, it’s growing their capacity and it’s stabilizing a neighborhood.”

We sat down with Dr. Adams to get his take on this unique and transformative project.

Shelbyville Preschool Main entry

Tell us how this project will benefit the students:

When Marsh Supermarket closed their Shelbyville store in 2011, the building remained vacant for many years. Shelbyville Central Schools saw an opportunity to turn it into something that could greatly benefit the community and school corporation.

Over time, we’ve found that we have many children entering school with diverse needs and are years behind in academic development before they even begin kindergarten. Their chances of success are very low. To address this problem, we want to establish this preschool to provide early intervention to better meet the needs of our students and community.

When you look at the dropout rates, you can often predict those students when you look at their lack of success throughout school. Our goal with this project is to get these 3- and 4-year-olds on track, and keep them there. Early intervention is the key in forming the beginning skills and habits necessary for students to be successful in their educational pursuits. It leads to a more positive learning experience, academic achievement, and higher graduation rates. We are also excited for the opportunity to have the chance to expand on our special needs program with this project.

An old Marsh is a unique location for a new preschool. Can you talk a little more about that?

Long term vacant buildings in a community sends the wrong message. Shelbyville Central Schools has been thinking about doing a new preschool for years, so we thought we could do a favor to the community by repurposing the empty Marsh building. Taking what was an eyesore and turning it into a new, attractive preschool benefits everyone. Schools are very important when it comes to attracting new business and young families to an area, which is why we believe this building will be an asset for all.

Shelbyville Preschool - admin entry

Proposed Rendering – Administrative Entrance

What are the most important aspects of an early childhood project, from your perspective?

Education has become very competitive, so there is a need to constantly market to prospective families. People can choose to enroll their children in any school corporation with open enrollment. Shelbyville Central Schools’ commitment to a quality education for children of all ages is made even more evident with the addition of this facility and the enhanced focus on early childhood education.

It is obvious that having an appropriate, solid educational curriculum is the most important aspect of early childhood education. But the building’s aesthetics, interior and exterior, are also important. When a parent drives by or is first walking up to the school, the exterior needs to draw them. The interior should prove it can meet the students’ needs.

This preschool is going to serve as a gateway into our K-12 schools, giving children a good start to their school career. We want parents to feel excited and comfortable to enroll their child in our preschool. We want to keep them within our community for the long-term, as well as attract new families.

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

I’ve worked on several projects with Schmidt Associates in the past. The experiences have always been positive, and the leadership is very strong. What I like most about Schmidt Associates, is their client-focus. They listen to your needs and work closely with you throughout the project. Millions of tax dollars are invested in school corporation projects, and Schmidt Associates excels in consistently providing the highest quality results.

I have worked with Sarah Hempstead throughout the years and have developed a level of trust and good communication with her. I am confident that Sarah and the Schmidt Associates team can guide our school corporation in the right direction, look out for our best interest, and have the skills to produce a quality facility for Shelbyville Central Schools and the Shelbyville community.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!

A Word from our Owners – Lake Central Athletics

Lake-Central-Owner-Blog

Hear from two of our Owners on the addition/renovation of Lake Central High School athletic spaces:

Dr. Larry Veracco, Superintendent of the Lake Central School Corporation

Dr. Larry Veracco is in his 8th year as Superintendent at LCSC. He has spent 24 years serving the community as teacher, assistant principal, and Assistant Superintendent prior to his current role. Over the past decade, numerous upgrades to the district’s 10 schools and two support facilities have been completed.

Bill Ledyard, Director of Facilities at Lake Central School Corporation

Bill Ledyard is in his 10th year as the Lake Central Director of Construction and Facilities. Prior to Lake Central he spent over 20 years as a Project Manager, Senior Project Manager, and Director of Construction working on numerous projects throughout the United States.

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What role do athletics play for your school corporation?

All our extracurriculars are extremely important to us as an organization and to our community. As we try to develop well-rounded graduates, athletics play a huge role in our effort. We’ve found students who connect to the school beyond the classroom get better grades, behave better, and connect with staff or coaches better. Historically, we’ve had high participation rates in our athletic program, and our goal is to maintain or increase those rates. The new spaces allow us to do that.

How often are the facilities used ‘after hours’ and what’s the impact it has on the community?

Let’s talk about the pool first. We put a lot of pressure on the Schmidt Associates’ project team to have the pool as part of phase 1 because of our giant swim club and community demands. The pool is used all day: starting with the Masters program in the morning, followed by preschool classes and the High School teams. The Club Team then practices from 4-8pm each weekday evening. It’s the most heavily used facility we have on our campus.

The fieldhouse provided us with the opportunity for more student and community engagement. We now can have intramural volleyball teams, and we’ve hosted various fundraisers in this space. The spaces is also equipped with tennis standards, giving the teams free indoor practice space during the offseason. The community is also able to use the space for walking 2 days a week. Due to temperatures, they’ve asked us to extend it a few more weeks till April 30th which we are accommodating.

Let’s talk about your outdoor facilities?

I brag all the time about the turf baseball and softball because if you go out today, they look like they were installed last week. Our staff, students, and athletes have done a fantastic job of keeping the spaces beautiful. We never see garbage on them, and students even pick up leaves to put in the trash so they don’t get crushed into the turf.

The various athletic teams do a great job of working together to share the fields and keep everything nice. To help maintain our natural turf soccer field and give it a rest in July and August, the team can now put portable goals into the baseball outfield or football field for practice.

Did Lake Central School Corporation have any artificial turf before the High School? If no, what drove the decision to go with artificial turf and how do you like it?

We had natural turf fields prior to this project. The multi-use factor is what made us want to switch to artificial turf. There was a need for more outdoor PE class space and due to our climate, by the time natural fields were nice, the seasons were over.

Transitioning the football field was an easy choice because it is used so much. Prior to the artificial turf, the football field was always a sand lot by the end of the season, no matter what maintenance we did.

A bonus has been the significant decrease in our maintenance costs; whether it was dealing with crushed brick or weeds, all of that went away. And now we only get rained out if there is lightening or heavy rain on game day.

What feedback do you hear from the students, educators, and community about the athletic spaces at Lake Central High School?

We consistently hear from the community how nice the facilities are and they can’t believe they are actually ‘ours’. We continue to receive tremendous praise from the community that we did it right. All the new spaces receive compliments from our residents and guests.

We hosted the High School Basketball Sectionals for the first time in our high school’s history this past year. It was just the right size, even at 80-90% capacity. The atmosphere was electric, and we got praise for that by both the media and the fans of our opponents.

Anything else?

Not sure it fits into these questions, but the way Schmidt Associates helped us design the upgrades to make more spaces for our student athletes affects how they practice after school. We now can get them home for dinner and there is time later in the evening for out of season sports teams to workout.

The innovative, cost-effective, and functional designs developed by Schmidt Associates have resulted in cutting-edge spaces for our students and staff. The team listens to the our needs and wants and designs projects to accommodate their clients.

 

“Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many architectural firms. Working with Schmidt Associates on the Lake Central projects over the past decade has very rewarding.”

– Bill Ledyard

LCHS Athletics Gallery

Designing for the Middle School Mind

Oh, how complicated (and scary) the mind of a teen works – emotions are high and attention is scattered. They may be more worried about the gossip in the hallway than the lessons in the classrooms. Distractions are everywhere, and it can be difficult to keep them engaged. But to be fair, it isn’t entirely their fault. The brain doesn’t fully mature until about age 25, meaning teens are more likely to be less organized and focused at their age.1

According to scientist James Bjork, teens crave activities that lead to a high level of excitement or require little effort. As designers, we also need to consider this while working on a middle school project. The classrooms, common spaces, and active areas need to engage and relate to the middle schoolers’ minds.

As designers, there are several ways we can help teachers keep students attentive and engaged:

  • Furniture: having flexibility within the classroom for the students and teachers are essential to interactive learning. Teacher’s often have a fixed desk either in the front or the back of classroom as well as a mobile station, allowing for more student interactions. Selecting furniture that has a mix of pieces ranging from flexible chairs, stools, desks, and tables can promote movement within the classroom.
  • Acoustics and technology: teens do best with active learning styles, opposed to passive. This requires a classroom to be well-equipped with the latest technology. Mobile white boards or smart boards allow the technology to be effective regardless of the furniture configuration. By designing a tech-rich environment, teachers are then able to switch up their lessons more spontaneously – keeping those teen-minds more interested in the tasks at hand. There is also evidence that proves attaching music to a lesson helps students retain the information.2
  • Bottle filling stations: letting kids drink water during class time has proven to help their brains function smoothly and lengthen attention spans2. By providing water bottle filling stations, kids can have their H2O in class.
  • Quiet breakout space or focus room: for when a student needs to take some time to regroup, set those emotions aside, and then get back to work. Spaces like this, inside a classroom or separate gives their minds a break from the fast-paced world they live it.
  • Bring nature in: include plenty of opportunity for students to see outside since they no longer get recess time. Including big windows in the classrooms will allow natural light to flood the space, increasing productivity and improving moods. We do keep shades/blinds in mind while designing for when teachers need a dark room for projector-related activities.
  • Common social spaces: because many teens prefer to interact with their peers, we can create a deliberate space to do that between class periods.

In addition to thinking about middle school design that will be engaging, we also keep safety and security in mind.

The big jump from the small, safe elementary school into the new, exciting middle school setting is a big bite to chew for most kids – including their parents. It will be important for us, as architects, to design a non-threatening environment to help students feel safe and put parents’ fears more at ease.

If hallways are tight and cramped, teen emotions are heightened and shoving can begin. Therefore, we are designing corridors to be wide enough to keep students from bumping into one another during passing periods. One way to elevate hallway anxiety is by separating grade levels in wings – keeping the smaller 6th graders away from the bigger 8th graders. A good example of a project where we did this was at George Rogers Middle School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another way to keep grade levels separated is by floors, which we’ve done at Greenwood Middle School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is true that teens will all learn, act, and respond in different ways, but the path for design is clear. By designing an environment with “the teenager’s view of their environment in mind and where there are “active, stimulating place where people can talk and share, quite places for downtime, and space for movement is planned for,” we can lend a hand to teachers.

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1 McDonald, Emma S. “A Quick Look into the Middle School Brain.” NAESP, Jan. 2010. https://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/resources/2/Principal/2010/J-Fp46.pdf

2 Wolpert-Gawron, Heather. “Tween Brains, Part III: How to Work It Out In The Classroom.” Tween Teacher, 30 Oct. 2013, tweenteacher.com/2013/10/30/tween-brains-part-iii-how-to-work-it-out-in-the-classroom/.

Infographic: 5 Tips for Early Childhood Planning, Design, and Construction

Most of us may have a difficult time remembering what it was like to be in preschool, but try to put yourself there for a moment. Everything seems so much bigger than you, your imagination is running freely, and you are actually encouraged to nap in the middle of the day.

When planning for an early childhood facility, it is important to think from preschooler’s perspective and consider how they interact with the world around them. The following five tips show a few aspects to keep in mind:

5 tips for early childhood design infographic

If you are interested in learning more or need help with you next project, reach out to us!