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September 16th, 2013
New school facilities address 21st-century challenges
A new generation of school facilities features cutting-edge technology, more flexible learning spaces, and other enhancements.
Caty Gutierrez pronounced her new school as “pretty chill.”
The 14-year-old is one of the first students to attend Dr. Abraham Cano Freshman Academy in Harlingen, Texas, a $29 million, state-of-the-art facility that opened in August.
“The school reminds me of a college,” she said.
One of several new school facilities to open this year, Dr. Abraham Cano is part of a new generation of facilities that feature cutting-edge technology, more flexible learning spaces, plenty of natural lighting, and other innovations designed to promote collaboration and enhance students’ experience.
In Merced, Calif., more than 800 freshmen and sophomores started school Aug. 20 in a brand-new, $98 million campus called El Capitan High School, a nine-building complex featuring more than 100 Wi-Fi access points and desks that encourage teamwork. In Springfield, Ohio, the new $51 million Northwestern Junior/Senior High School opened in late August with improved security, natural lighting, and technology—including Apple TVs and interactive boards in every classroom.
And at Dr. Abraham Cano, a college campus style and other 21st-century elements had students buzzing with excitement as they returned to school.
“Today’s kids are digital learners. They take in the world via the filter of computing devices,” said Eli R. Ochoa, president and chief executive officer of ERO Architects.
Designed by McAllen, Texas-based ERO in conjunction with the Harlingen community, the school supports project-based learning in the five Achieve Texas Career clusters: education and training; health science; STEM; business management and administration; and liberal arts.
Corey Ryan, marketing director for the Harlingen school district, described the new school’s library as an “information literacy center.” The campus, he said, was designed to support a “bring your own device” environment. Students without electronic devices will be able to borrow them from the library, as well traditional bound books on the shelves.
“It’s a 21st-century library,” he said. “It’s going to be a central hub. (The students) will have access to technology and a traditional library. It will be a place for students to come and work together.”
(Next page: How California’s El Capitan High School fosters collaboration)