COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
School Design from a student's viewpoint
I’ll be 14 soon, on April 27, 2016. I admit, I was a bit nervous about seeing my new high school. It was so much bigger than my middle school, filled with students and teachers I didn't know. Fortunately I had Eric to show me around, take me to a few classes and hang out. My dad drove me up to the school, and it looked really cool from the outside. It sat in a beautiful landscape and the building forms were radical with all these cool angles and materials. He told me that it was ‘off the grid’ with no need for electric, water or sewer lines. The school board had said on TV last night that if we want a sustainable future, our schools should teach by example. Rotating windmills were all over the campus, and the roof was covered in solar collectors. Vegetable gardens were alongside. I guess these were for the kids who actually like salads for lunch. I don't, but that's another story. We drove to the front door and I got out and went inside. Amazing. It was a beautiful space. I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is going to be a place I might actually like coming to. Light poured into the huge lobby greenhouse, the banana trees glistened in the sun. Eric met me and we went to meet some of his friends and then we all went to the auditorium for an all school meeting. Another cool room, covered in warm timber. There were no lights on. Come to think of it, I didn't see any lights on at the school. The electric company must be truly steamed (sorry) that our school administration is inspiring us to use little electricity. We went to history class in a space like I’ve never seen before. It had an open feel that was very casual and comfortable for me. Eric and I opened our laptops and followed through a piece with our teacher that described our city, Portland, ten years ago, where many of our schools were old and dilapidated. Where there were no arts even. I like ancient history so it was kind of interesting. I’m lucky that now, my parents’ generation has shown physically, through the architecture of my new school, that they value education and see me and my friends as being kind of important.
by Stuart Emmons
The Oregonian Blog, April 22, 2008