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Building Forward: High school innovation space planning puts student voices first

Eaglecrest's Site Advisory Team brainstorms ideasWhen the district’s neighborhood high schools learned that the 2020 bond included funds to revitalize their schools with innovative spaces, the first reaction was immediate: how do we make sure it will serve students' needs?

To answer this, high schools have invited students to be part of the Site Advisory Team (SAT) work in developing a vision for the spaces. These students joined the teams for different reasons, some citing an interest in architecture or construction while others wanted a chance to leave behind a legacy. 

“I am actually interested in a career within the architecture field,” Cherokee Trail High School freshman Sophia Martin shared. “Being on this team allows me to dip my toes into the more business-focused part of that world.”

Eaglecrest High School students also wanted to ensure that students’ voices were represented. Sophomore Chelsea Asibbey and junior Noah Vieyra shared that they hoped to bring a student lens that would allow the new space to meet the needs of all students. Grace Bebarta, a junior at Cherry Creek High School, was impressed with how inclusive the space would be. Cherry Creek High School junior Tyler Tolbert shared he was impressed by how thoughtful the conversation has been.

“I think it is interesting how much thought goes into the people that use the space,” Tolbert said. “I think it is very common to think that the main focus of architecture is how the people look, but going through the process, it is evident that more time is spent making sure the space will benefit the people using it.”

For some students, like Grandview High School sophomore Larry Ruth, inclusion is especially meaningful. Ruth is in the ILC program at Grandview; the school is planning to focus their innovation on that part of the school. After helping his family with a home renovation project, Ruth is excited to learn more about construction. He shared that the district’s focus on career and technical education is important.

“If kids don’t learn how to take care of themselves, how will they know how to survive when their parents can’t be there forever,” Ruth said. “It’s important to take steps into the ‘big world.’”

One surprise for many of the students was to see how much collaboration and teamwork went into these kinds of projects, noting how important it is to see adults modeling the behavior they encourage in the classroom.

“The process, so far, has reinforced the importance of collaboration,” Cherokee Trail sophomore Preston Cho said. “Sharing ideas and gaining different perspectives on an issue is a key part of the process for any collaborative project, and it’s never just one person’s input that carries the larger venture.”

Joe George Ruge, also a freshman at Cherokee Trail, was excited for the prospect of more career and technical education offerings, which is a major feature of this work.

“With how competitive finding a good job is now, and how many jobs rely on technology, innovation is extremely important,” Ruge said. “If we don’t teach students how to appreciate and understand technology, then we are limiting what they can do.”


Posted 5/19/21.