Every healthy organization must continue to grow and change. As we boldly move forward in offering exceptional Christian learning experiences at Hamilton District Christian High, we believe that our building and learning spaces are a key tool for accomplishing our mission and vision.
While the spaces our students learn in are not the only factor in a great education, we know that quality of learning and enrollment do have a direct correlation to well-developed, innovative facilities.
We have had the chance to repurpose existing spaces, we are currently building new spaces, and we are also in the process of designing and planning more new spaces for the future. Our learning needs increasingly drive changes to the physical structures and layout of our building so we can honour our students and provide the best learning experiences possible.
Looking back, two significant parts of our renewal plan over the past five years have been the art room transformation and significant technology updates. The art program, in its expanded and relocated space, has been able to flourish in new ways. In terms of technology, introducing computers into our hallways and making 3D printers available for student use have been significant.
Having computers in such close proximity to our classrooms allows for ongoing differentiation of instruction, that is, providing more different ways for students to learn. It also allows us to create more varied products of learning. An example of this is our Grade 9 design block class using the 3D printer to create working prototypes of their trebuchets. These prototypes were analyzed and used to improve the trebuchet designs before heading to the wood shop for the building phase. Students are directly benefitting from the renewal of learning spaces.
Currently, we are basking in the beauty of our Learning Centre addition. This addition was planned in response to our commitment to provide spaces that support all students in their various learning needs. There are ‘campfire’ spaces where students meet to learn, listen and be interactive as a group; ‘cafe’ spaces where students connect in small groups or work comfortably alone; and ‘cave’ spaces which provide a quiet, safe work space for individuals.
The architecture in this addition reflects beauty in structure and natural environments. A green roof, two-storey tree, and exposed wood beams and workspaces provide inspiration and a connection to the beauty of creation. Now that the Learning Centre is complete and is providing these unique spaces for individual and small group learning, other spaces in our building can also experience a transformation of use and purpose.
Facility Renewal 2020
We continue to learn about effective design and development through these renewal and construction projects. These experiences will guide us as we dream and plan future building transformations – Facility Renewal 2020. Our next building developments are currently in the concept phase. Because we believe that the strength and quality of our end product will depend on having input from a wide range of experts and community members, we have begun a Facility Renewal Coalition. This group will include but is not limited to architects, contractors, fundraisers, city planner, finance manager, project manager, board members, and principal.
The Coalition is developing the program, size, and scale of the next phase, which will involve a renewed food service and teaching food lab, as well as the development of high and low tech shops. Some specific priorities include creating space for students to present their learning to both small and large groups, moving from single-function spaces to multi-function spaces, and
transforming the front foyer so that it is more connected to the learning going on all through the building.
Our desire is that, from the moment someone walks into Hamilton District Christian High, they see students highly engaged in their learning, beautiful student work on display, and a buzz of excitement resulting from a community centred around rich learning experiences.
As we move forward toward Facility Renewal 2020 and beyond, our structural development needs to be flexible and responsive to new learning needs, while building on successes and learning from our prior improvement experiences.
Our spaces must be fluid and adaptable as learning needs change, enabling us to provide increasingly deep and rich educational experiences. As our organization continues to grow and change, our prayer is that our spaces are driven by the exceptional learning taking place and that these spaces bless our community as we cultivate character through learning for lives of service to God.
Vice Principal, Hamilton District Christian High