Antelope Ridge Elementary School
Sierra Brown, Ellie Dalrymple and Brenden Hill have an active investment in Antelope Ridge Elementary School.
As members of the school’s Student Council, these fifth-graders and their peers have made a commitment their school and its future students. Along with other Antelope Ridge students, they had an active voice in designing the school’s new Innovation Space, a place designed to encourage investment, collaboration and next-generation learning.
“This space is more comfortable. It feels bigger than it did before,” said Brenden Hill, as he stood in the center of the refurbished and redesigned space. He pointed to several new features, including an open, auditorium-like lecture section, interactive furniture and cozy nooks designed to accommodate individual learning. “The bulky chairs and tables are gone. We can draw on our desks and get things done.”
That feeling of freedom and possibility was a big part of the redesign process, according to Antelope Ridge Principal Amy Winant. In reinventing a traditional library space, school administrators wanted to provide students more opportunities and freedoms. They wanted to create a core space where kids could work together or find their own private spot to focus.
“We really wanted this space to be a collaborative, heart of the school where students and grade levels can meet. So far this year, we’ve really been able to see those goals realized,” Winant said. “Our whole purpose was really to make it a place for kids to think, create and collaborate.”
A walk through the new space in the fall of 2019 showed just how much Antelope Ridge staff stayed true to those ideals. During a time when multiple classes and multiple grade levels were at work at once, the space still felt open and airy. As first-graders sat on tiered seats, or “story steps,” older students worked on a robotics assignment in one of the neighboring “Maker Spaces.” At the same time, other students navigated around the library’s bookshelves and took up spots in new nooks designed for private reading time.
“We’ve made everything movable, and it’s been completely accommodating,” Winant said. “They were very intentional. Big groups can come together, small groups can come together and students can work individually. We’ve also created a space where teachers can thrive through Project Based Learning and offer individualized instruction.”
Similar spaces have gone up in every elementary and middle school in the Cherry Creek School District, and came through funding approved by voters in 2016. The spaces are designed to develop skills like collaboration, inquiry, empathy, problem-solving, curiosity, innovative thinking and passion. According to the latest academic research, as well as firsthand input from parents, teachers and other members of the CCSD community garnered during the Cherry Creek 2021 initiative, these are the skills that are integral to preparing students for a 21st-century academic and professional landscape. This innovative approach to learning is also tied directly to the Instructional Excellence priority in Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap for maintaining educational excellence.
“We worked with business, we worked with industry and we worked with colleges when we created the focus of what our innovation spaces would be. The goal is helping our students become critical thinkers,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. “We want them to use knowledge in different ways, and we want them to learn to effectively learn to work with other people.” Siegfried added that every innovation space was designed to meet the unique needs of every separate school and community. “One of the greatest parts of our innovation work is allowing every school, every principal, every student and every community to be engaged in what innovation should look like at their school,” Siegfried said. “This is the next iteration of excellence.”
"Students will be able to move flexibly to varied spots throughout the space to allow for different environments for thinking and learning! Student can choose to be quiet and focused or the time may come for more collaborative team discussion, planning, and creating"
-Principal Amy Winant