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Summer upgrades revamp library, other student spaces to embrace modern technology



TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Students meet in the newly remodeled Student Center at Beaverton High School that features the schools logo built with Nike Grind. Beaverton High School may be 99 years old, but in some ways, the district’s oldest high school is getting younger.

The area’s oldest high school underwent a partial makeover during the summer and now has one of the Beaverton School District's most modern libraries, as well as enhanced college and career, student and community centers.

More improvements are coming to the campus, thanks to the school’s donor-fueled Success Fund, which has reached $4.5 million in donations and pledges. Beaverton High also will celebrate its centennial as a 12-year school in 2016, with a slate of activities in the works (see accompanying story).

The fund got huge boosts in its first year, starting with a $300,000 donation and then growing in April with an eye-popping $3 million pledge, with both gifts coming from anonymous alumni.

This summer, school officials spent the first half million, including $250,000 on the building improvements, $140,000 on new technology, and the rest on other opportunities, such as $30,000 in “mini-grants” for teachers to make special purchases to enrich their lessons.

“The money goes immediately to work,” Principal Anne Erwin said.

Future Ready library

When Beaverton High students arrived last week, they found several of their favorite spaces covered in new carpet, paint and furniture.

The largest newly remodeled area is the library, where furniture can be scooted around so individuals and groups of students can study and collaborate more easily.

“We’re able to move things around and try different things,” said Christie Christophersen, one of the library’s media assistants.TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Library teacher Ben Novinger looks at one of the new Chromebooks that students will use at Beaverton High School.

Beaverton High was chosen to be among the school district’s first 15 Future Ready libraries, so it’s geared to technology and flexibility as learning modes change. Books still line the edges and fill shelves at one end, but students also can use the wifi and electrical outlets to plumb the limitless information available online.

“We’re sort of a test case for library redesign in the district,” Erwin said.

Instead of a large computer lab commanding a big chunk of the room, there are the equivalent number of Google Chromebooks in two carts. Students can check out the portable computers to work on assignments anywhere in the library. There are computer labs elsewhere in the school still, but the focus is shifting to integrating technology throughout the school, including in classrooms.

“It’s not going to be a silent library,” said Ben Novinger, the school’s new library information technology teacher.

Novinger not only oversees the library, but also helps take technology directly into the classrooms. He is working with platoons of teachers at a time in “technology camps” to bring them up to speed on the latest high-tech teaching tools, which they will share with students.

“We are really trying to get students to take on their own learning using the tools technology provides,” Novinger said. “College librarians were telling us: ‘Get them to college knowing how to use a database.’”

Cameron Kocher came to the library during Tuesday’s lunch period for the first formal meeting of a Programming Club that Novinger is leading. The senior said the facility is more tech-friendly than it was when he was an underclassman.

Fellow club member Hayato Yokoyama, also a senior, said the library now has “more places to relax and be able to talk to each other.”

More improvements

The school’s Student Center, at the main entrance, is a popular spot for students to take a break or talk with peers about homework.

“It’s sort of our living room,” Erwin said. “It needed a facelift.”

It was completely refurnished, including a tough new Nike Grind floor made of recycled athletic shoes. (Nike also donates a lot of gently used furniture to Beaverton High and other area campuses.)

Seniors Sydney Dawson and Kristin Kepner spent part of their lunch time chatting in the center on Tuesday and said they appreciated the modern touches, including the Grind floor with a Beaverton Beavers logo prominently in the center.

“It makes me want to go in and keep it nicer,” Kepner said.

“It would be a good place to study,” Dawson added.

Around the corner, the College and Career Center was also heavily revamped with new technology, furniture and paint. The center now has the flexibility to allow groups and pairs of people to meet in different areas of the room as career mentors and college recruiters cycle through constantly, said Linda Chin, one of two college and career specialists at the school.

The technology includes a large Smart Board, a jumbo-sized touch screen computer for presentations that can be downloaded for future use.

The Community Room, a conference space near the front of the school, also was fully refurbished.

Not just paint and carpet

Erwin said that while some improvements are cosmetic and some functional, all of them help students and staff feel that, although they are on a campus that dates back to the early years of the last century, they are well equipped for what lies ahead.

“We’re saying about this place: ‘We’re old, but we’re not old-fashioned,’” she said.

For example, Erwin’s staff is in the process of developing a new pathway of courses and materials that will help lay the foundation for students interested in careers in engineering. The school already has similar pathways in health care and marketing, and those students not only graduate with special skills but many also leave with college credits.

“What seems to be happening is there’s a sense of possibility,” she said. “We’re able to get people to think into the future.”TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Library teacher Ben Novinger (from left) meets with seniors Alison Bowden, Cameron Kocher and Hayato Yokoyama in the newly remodeled library at Beaverton High School.