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Locked in Locker Renovations

As most of the school's lockers are being torn out, administration and senior class representatives plan renovations

Jonah Park and Jaden E. Webster

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It is time to say goodbye to most of the beloved school lockers. As the usage of lockers at BV West declines, so does their necessity. Upcoming renovations will replace portions of the locker bays with flexible learning spaces, allowing students to better utilize their time during JAG and normal class alike. If all goes well, more renovations will follow.

The 2017 school year was the first time every student did not receive a locker assignment. They were only available to students who requested them, and only a very small percentage of them did.

“At one point this fall, when all the students were back, we asked the question how many lockers were being used, and approximately 40 lockers were being used,” Assistant Principal Bryan Brutto said. “Right then and there we saw an opportunity to look at how those spaces are being used and maybe re-purpose these spaces.”

With hundreds of unused lockers occupying unnecessary space, the administration, as well as the senior class officers, saw the opportunity. The new JAG was introduced this school year, and many students needed a new place to study and socialize.

“At the same time, the senior class was thinking about a gift, and they were thinking the same thing,” Brutto said. “Lockers aren’t being used, we’re going to have JAG time; what if the senior locker bay did not have some lockers in it?”

Every year, the seniors donate a gift using the leftover money the class has from fundraisers and dances. This year, the senior class intends to contribute to these renovations by donating furniture for the new learning spaces.

“Our idea came from some of the seniors from last year actually,” senior class officer Sara Wallace said. “They thought it would be really cool that — especially with Power Hour starting — we’ll get some extra space like some of the other schools have for learning and a nice, comfy area. We made a whole proposal, we put in the plans, the estimated cost of things, what would be required, [and] ideas we had for it.”

The senior class and administration had a very similar vision of what they wanted to see come out of these renovations.

“Anytime you look at change, there has to be a vision of what that will look like,” Brutto said. “We want to provide a flexible space that has multiple uses. We might create a space that will be utilized by students during JAG time but also a space that could be used by teachers and classrooms in the same way pods are being used.”

Currently, there is not a concrete plan for the renovations. BV West has pods, which resemble the flexible learning spaces that will replace some of the lockers, and will likely determine the direction of the reconstruction.

“The pods are the closest things to our plans,” Brutto said. “We see students using them so we know that the new spaces will probably be utilized. It is still very much for us in a state of flux and is very gray, but like everything else, it has been very fast. We’re hoping to have something done by the end of October. Our initial plan is to remove some of the current lockers and have them replaced.”

For now, the plan is simple. Administration is currently focusing on removing the lockers, then they will be able to figure out how to furnish each area.

“Plans for senior locker bay:  Lockers on the window side of the senior locker bay will be removed,” Principal Brett Potts said. “The lockers along the wall will be placed in the PE hallway so that athletes can store bags and equipment in them. The rest will be hauled away. Carpet will be installed in this area.”

The sophomore locker bay will be completely removed, making room for a separate project.

“Plans for the sophomore locker bay:  All lockers will be removed,” Potts said. “This space will serve as a “learning lab” or “design lab” and will be considered part of the library.  Eventually, we’d like to change the windows in the library into sliding glass doors so that space can actually function as an extension of the library.  Teachers will be able to bring students into this space to work on projects and activities.  Library personnel would be available to assist teachers.”

Brutto sees that jobs today are changing, and the layout of schools should follow suit. He sees a correlation between the current workforce and the way classrooms should operate.

“It used to be that the normal classroom had desks in rows and a podium at the front. In the industrial revolution you had the assembly line,” Brutto said. “We needed a workforce that would work well with the assembly line: how to use that machine, how to be able to produce this product. Now fast forward to 2017, what kind of workforce do we need now? Someone who is good at communicating, collaborating, those things that you’re doing in the classroom right now, I’m hoping that not all of them have desks in straight rows and a podium at the front.”

To foster a learning environment that will develop these skills, Brutto hopes the coming changes to BV West will play a part in encourage student collaboration. The new setup will become useful to students during JAG, and also for normal classrooms.

“Having a little more self-directed voice in choice in how you utilize your time – I think that these spaces will be instrumental in that,” Brutto said. “How often have you wanted to do a group project and have to huddle around one tiny laptop?”

In group projects or study groups, students will have the ability to work together in a whole new way. According to Brutto, changes like these will determine how effectively time is used.

“What if we had a collaboration station where we had a fifty-inch plasma and someone is able to plug in their computer and say, ‘Hey we’re going to work on our project for world history,’” Brutto said. When you’re able to do something like that, it could change the way you collaborate. There are certain setups in a classroom that dictate what will happen.”

Ultimately, the result of these renovations will depend on the input of the students. Furniture donated this year will be used by many more generations of BV West students, so their input is important.

“I’m glad they’re doing renovations for people to hang out,” junior Lucy Sun said. “I think it’s good that we’re finally getting use out of the locker bays since almost no one uses their lockers. For furniture, desks with a corner would allow people to do multiple things at once.”

Students want a comfortable work place, where they can be productive and also relax.

“Some couches would be nice,” sophomore Adit Agarwal said. “Maybe make it so that you have a reservation to sit with your friends so people aren’t fighting over them.”

The administration and senior class are researching what furniture has worked best, but in the end, the new learning spaces will be modeled on the input of the students.

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