RPS Holds Visioning Workshop

Last Tuesday night Revere Public Schools hosted a “Virtual Community Visioning Workshop” that focused on setting educational and architectural priorities for the new Revere High School project.

During the hour and half long workshop a good amount of time was spent on design patterns that were prioritized during prior visioning workshops.

During the virtual event, students and families had the option to like or dislike certain aspects of proposed design patterns.

At the very end of the presentations participants had the opportunity to rate the design patterns based on what was the most and least important.

The first pattern presented and the one that was rated most important by the viewing public during the meeting was the ‘heart of the school’.

“The idea that there’s a central Learning Commons, a place that brings the whole community together,” said Davis Stephen, a consultant for Perkins Eastman. “In this particular example, and this is a school in Massachusetts, built through the MSBA process five years ago–West Bridgewater Middle/High School. You can see that their cafeteria is their heart of school, but it’s also got a very nice carpeted stair area where kids can sit and use their technology. It’s also a nice performance area and it connects to an interior courtyard that also has places to eat and outdoor classrooms.”

The next pattern shown dealt with community access and again showed an example of West Bridgewater Middle/High School. 

“You can see that the gym, the cafeteria, and the interior courtyard, the auditorium, the music area. the video lab, and the robotics and computer area are all accessible in this community core, so it’s safe and it’s welcoming,” said Stephens. “It can be used after hours safely and you can block off the rest of the areas of the school from this area so it really becomes a community center. It’s a very pleasant space, West Bridgewater makes this area accessible to the community and they also use it as an income generating space (for the school).

The third pattern sealth with “classroom neighborhoods” or “clusters of learning”.

“You can see in the diagram that there is, instead of a classroom, there is an open space,” said Stephens. “There’s also a teacher planning area here and special education rooms that are integrated fully into this classroom neighborhood. Now this could be a ninth grade neighborhood. It could be an English neighborhood, or a math neighborhood. Or it could be integrated across subject areas. So, this is one of the ways that we’re looking at building on the connections between spaces. This could support a career pathway as well. And one important element of that is that there’s some visual connection to this space. So this is a space that students can leave the classroom, they can do independent or small group work or you might gather a couple of classrooms out there for a presentation or an activity. So it gives you a lot of flexibility.”

Stephens added that while traditional classrooms are still very important they need to have flexible furniture, good natural light and allow for different configurations so teachers and students can adapt to more traditional education delivery or small group work.

“Plastic chairs can be stacked and you can move things around, some of the table tops can go up and down so you can have standing tables as well,” said Stephens. “There’s good technology infrastructure so students can be using their laptops.”

In the next slide during the workshop Stephens talked about enrichment spaces at a new high school.

“We know that we’re going to have these spaces in the building, and there’ll be a good amount of square footage directed at them,” said Stephens. “But we want them to be easy to access, visible, and centrally located so that these spaces connect to their ability to be used after hours by the community. We want to be able to support extracurricular activities, enrichment programming, afterschool programming, adult programming and have those programs easy to find. Also, we want them visually accessible because that’s where some of the really interesting and fun stuff is happening in the school and we want to make sure that we can showcase that multi-use and flexible spaces.”

There will also be an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning.

“We also want to be thinking about things like a maker space where science, technology, engineering and math, or project work can happen,” said Stephen. “We also want to be thinking about project labs, connected career tech spaces and spaces where kids can be creative “

Stephens also highlighted outdoor learning spaces,

After the meeting the top three rated patterns of importance were Heart of the School, Community Access and the addition of Multi-Use and Flexible spaces.

In April 2020 the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) voted to authorize inviting the City of Revere to collaborate with the MSBA in conducting a Feasibility Study to build a new high school in the city.

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