Revere High School Principal Dr. John Perella said the schools of the future will look nothing like the schools of today and that’s the approach the RHS Design Team will take when designing the new high school.
The RHS Design Team, which consists of Perella, students, parents and architects from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) recently held a design event to start envisioning what a new Revere High School might look like.
For the past three years Revere has been trying to get a plan off the ground to consolidate some old school buildings and build a new high school that will serve the city’s students and families for generations to come.
Then, this school year Revere Public Schools cleared a major hurdle during a MSBA board meeting. At that meeting the MSBA board voted to invite Revere and ten other school districts that filed Statements of Interest (SOI) this year to take part in the eligibility process that could ultimately lead to for grant money to build new high school here.
The design event was one step in a long process of attaining that grant money.
“We weren’t there to design a building but an educational experience for the students and community,” said Perella of the experience. “We learned that we have to rethink what education looks like.”
Most ‘typical’ school buildings were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These giant brick boxes with rows of tables and chairs were preparing students for a career in a giant brick box office building with more rows of tables and chairs.
“School’s of the future will look nothing like this because offices and the workplace don’t look anything like they used to,” said Perella. “The design is something that will be comfortable and inviting to get our minds stimulated for learning.”
Over the course of the design event the RHS Design Team’s ideas and vision were put down on paper by MSBA architects to begin formulating a design.
Perella said the architects took what the team was saying and thinking and came up with a building that includes community-based space for all of Revere to enjoy like a community health center, a fitness or wellness center, a cafe or restaurant that could be attached to a culinary arts program at the school and open to the public as well as a fine arts area for events, plays and evening events. There would also be an athletic facility attached to the school and fields.
“Then the second and third levels would be where more secure educational programming would be taking place,” said Perella.
These would be the classrooms or, as the design team dubbed, “Learning Studios” because the goal is trying to rethink education and learning.
“As a participant in terms of watching what you put together 9for the design event) you did an amazing job,” Mayor Brian Arrigo told the RHS Design Team. “It was really incredible to see the thoughts and ideas coming from the team, especially from the students, it really shows how much passion there is for this. I couldn;t think of better people representing the city and what a new high school will look like.”
Assistant Superintendent Josh Vadala said the process was one of the most unique and transformative processes that he’s ever had in his professional career.
“It was different than anything I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “This is so different than anything we have ever done. What was so great about it was that the MSBA brought in some of the best architects from all over the country who did this work pro bono to give us this experience so when we enter the next phase (of this process) we will know what to expect. It got us thinking about the type of school we want to have and the types of programs we want to have because the programs are going to lead the design. We are really thinking about how this new building will be more than just a school but something for the whole community.