By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye
Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS) has changed both in its look and philosophy.
Teachers are excited about the changes at the school. Construction has been underway since 2010 with plans for full completion by 2013. Principal Ian Rawlinson said the new building matches their core philosophy of an open learning environment, “infused with technology, it’s project-based learning.”
Students will no longer be put in boxes and lectured to.
“It’s based on teamwork, collaboration,” explains Rawlinson.
The main hall itself is an open room that will eventually have computers along the walls for students to use for research and learning. Rawlinson said when they designed the building they used the Starbucks Coffee, Chapters bookstore philosophy of learning, with open spaces where you can grab a book, sit down, learn and have a coffee at the same time.
The high school will actually have a coffee kiosk attached to the cafeteria giving students a similar feeling.
“Kids do not learn the same way they did 40 or 50 years ago, so why do we continue to design schools the same way?” asks Rawlinson.
The math and science park, phase 2, is now being built and is planned for completion next June. The design for the additions are all based on the school’s mission statement, “Putting all learners on winning streaks.”
Gary Hoogers, an English teacher at PCHS for nine years, is eager to use the new design at the high school.
“Set them up, give direction and go find a place to work.” Hoogers said before construction began he would get students to study in the cafeteria or any room that he could find, now he can take them to the general purpose room and divide them into groups to study. “The general outline of the course is the same, how to teach it is different.”
Wifi Internet will be available to students who are eligible as well, though they will have to apply to receive it. PCHS believes in embracing the technology and using it responsibly, as opposed to censoring it completely.
Due to weather, construction delayed the first day of classes to Sept. 6. Teachers were working hard at preparing courses, classrooms and general clean up but they were all excited to be able to use the new building and technology available.