Customized Designs for Chillicothe Students
Feb 06, 2017
CHILLICOTHE - The interiors of Chillicothe City Schools' new grade-banded elementary schools will be steeped in vivid color, history and functionality, a presentation by the design firm heading the project revealed.
SHP Leading Design met with members of the district's Executive Design Team this week to go over some initial renderings showing what the interiors of the two buildings — a kindergarten through second-grade facility to be constructed at Cherry and Mill streets and a third- through sixth-grade structure at Arch and Vine streets — are expected to look like. The team is about midway through the design development stage, which is the final significant stage before construction documents are created and physical work on the sites can begin.
The interiors are being customized to the age levels in each building.
"In the K-2, you're going to see some really bright colors," Superintendent Jon Saxton said. "The designers said as you look at this (color) palette, don't look at it as though you'd be decorating your living room. We're not decorating a living room. We're decorating a school for kids that are 5 to 7 years old. You'll see some bright greens and pinks and yellows."
Saxton added: "We wanted to kind of have the theme of growing kids, so it's kind of an organic building inside."
That means you'll see connections to trees and the outdoors throughout, ranging from the way some support pillars will branch out near a ceiling made to look like a canopy of leaves to images of tree trunks on tack and marker boards in extended learning areas to sound abatement panels in the student dining area that are designed to look like leaves
Extended learning areas, which are common areas located within each grade pod that can be used as locations to offer lessons to multiple classes at the same time, will have an outdoorsy look with a green carpeting offering the look of grass, surrounded by vinyl tile that will bleed into the classrooms.
The K-2 building also will contain reminders of the 7 Habits of Happy Kids that have been an integral part of the district's Leader in Me initiative.
The design for the third- through sixth-grade building is being approached a bit differently.
"In the 3-6, we want the focus to be more historical. Obviously, it's a more traditional-looking building from the exterior so the color scheme is a little less bright, a little more mature," Saxton said.
One notable characteristic of the building will be a nod to local history designed to help teachers incorporate the building's features into lessons and build an appreciation in children of their hometown's past.
"I'm a history teacher (at heart) so I saw this as a great opportunity to incorporate the teaching of history into the building and use the building to actually teach our kids and people who visit the building," Saxton said. "There are a lot of different themes throughout our local history, and it ties perfectly to our curriculum.
"State and local history is a part of third- and fourth-grade curriculum, so it's a great opportunity for kids to realize how much history we have here locally so we can tie it to the World Heritage designation application, statehood, the canal era, Ohio's governors, Lucy Hayes, the Underground Railroad, so many different things. We're still working through that."
The building's main entrance will open up into a rotunda with stairs leading to a second-floor media center. The rotunda will appear as a sunburst against a blue sky backdrop to resemble that of the Great Seal of the State of Ohio, another nod to the area's past. There will be other historical displays throughout the building, including the possibility of having a display dedicated to one of the state's four governors from Chillicothe located in each of the four grade pods.
Functionality plays a role in both buildings. The third- through sixth-grade building will contain slat-wall areas where papers and notices can be placed and will have about a dozen flat-panel video display boards where things such as messages, student recognitions and other information can be posted. There will be around a half-dozen such display boards in the building serving the younger children.
The community room in the third- through sixth-grade building, which has a capacity of more than 100 people, will have a camera installed with the ability to plug a sound system into it so things such as board meetings and community events can be broadcast at a higher quality than is now possible. Classrooms and extended learning areas will have voice amplification systems in place so teachers can wear microphones to be heard better, and walls separating classrooms will have the ability to be peeled back to combine classrooms for shared lessons.
Other enhancements such as large whiteboards that can be slid over children's cubby spaces when in use create a space savings, while flexibility is enhanced by teachers having smaller, mobile desks and through use of new LED touch-screen panels that can be wheeled about where needed for classroom use.
Saxton said teachers have been involved in the process to create the environment right from the beginning and that their input has been considered alongside the design team's and the designers' ideas. Right now, they are involved in reviewing furniture options for classrooms and extended learning areas.
Saxton said the process is on schedule and on budget, with some items on the wish list being set aside from a cost standpoint to see how bids come in. If things continue on pace, construction should start in the spring with a targeted opening for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
- Chris Balusik, Reporter, Chillicothe Gazette