Strongsville Middle School Brings the 21st Century Learning Experience to Students
In 2013, the Strongsville City School District in Strongsville, Ohio recognized that the two middle schools serving the community had become overcrowded and out of date, and did not adequately serve the needs of today’s 21st Century student. In fact, the older of the two schools, Center Middle School, had been built almost 100 years ago! Additionally, the two existing schools served only grades 7 and 8, and District administrators desired to include all 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in one, forward-thinking facility. Ultimately, the District came to the conclusion that construction of a brand new middle school was necessary, and in 2015, development began on the modern Strongsville Middle School.
To fulfill their objective of providing local students with a true 21st Century Learning experience, Strongsville District Administrators knew that they would need to partner with a provider that could help install innovative furniture & equipment throughout the new school. The District was required by Ohio state mandate to go through a very strict bidding process, which was ultimately won by School Specialty, Inc., a premier distributor of supplies, furniture, and both curriculum and supplemental resources to the education marketplace.
Cindy Sakotas, Senior Interior Designer for GPD Group, who designed the interior educational spaces of the new Strongsville High School, had collaborated for many years with Elisa Race, Architect and Design Specialist for the Midwest at School Specialty, Inc., on a variety of projects that School Specialty had been awarded after bidding processes similar to the one that took place for Strongsville Middle School. Cindy had seen firsthand the industry-leading products and professional expertise offered by School Specialty. Additionally, given her successful partnership with Race, she knew that School Specialty would be the right furniture & equipment provider for executing the vision of the new Strongsville Middle School.
In February 2016, School Specialty was awarded an almost $1 million contract to deploy furniture & equipment solutions for the entire facility.
Modern, Flexible Spaces for Everyday Learning
The new Strongsville Middle School was built to offer students the most advanced 21st Century Learning experience possible, and to instill in them a love for learning. Supporting this environment, the facility features more circular spaces, which are warmer and more inviting than traditional square or rectangular room configurations. Flexibility is a key theme throughout, and both teachers and students can utilize spaces in a number of unique ways. This adaptability is critical to 21st Century Learning, as it encourages children to be interactive and engaged, and helps them to learn in a variety of ways, such as through group projects.
The Strongsville City School District requested a range of high quality, state-of-the-art furniture & equipment from GPD, which turned to School Specialty’s NeoClass Line as a solution to meet the District’s needs. NeoClass is designed to meet ergonomic needs and stimulate alertness, while providing optimal comfort for an enjoyable classroom experience. NeoClass desks and chairs enable greater mobility by allowing teachers to quickly and easily reconfigure classroom layouts that accommodate various instructional methods, whether it’s a collaborative discussion, individual projects, or group lectures.
Additionally, NeoClass seating solutions focus specifically on motion. These unique furniture pieces allow users to move gently (forward, backward, or side-to-side) in their seats, creating a calming effect and helping them to concentrate. The flexibility offered by NeoClass products directly support the 21st Century Learning setting, and District administrators were so impressed with the line that they ordered approximately 1,900 chairs and 1,300 desks! In addition to NeoClass, School Specialty deployed other durable, aesthetically pleasing classroom furniture items from its proprietary Classroom Select brand, as well as soft seating, mobile furniture items, and teacher workstations with attached podiums. With the school’s contemporary color scheme being red-orange, green, blue and yellow, School Specialty customized the furniture to fit Cindy Sakotas’ color scheme, ensuring a cohesive look throughout the facility.
Something About Strongsville MS Looks Familiar!
One particularly noteworthy area of the new Strongsville Middle School is the cafeteria, which is two stories tall. This area is styled like a café, as administrators sought to re-create environments that are familiar to students and similar to places where they may spend their time outside of school, such as a mall food court. GPD designed a 61-foot long, candy cane-shaped booth that runs through the middle of the cafeteria. School Specialty worked with a custom booth manufacturer to build a booth that would suit the unique needs of the District and its vision for the cafeteria, and is the largest piece of booth seating that the manufacturer has ever created for any school. GPD also specified over 500 new “cafetorium” chairs from NPS, a vendor partner of School Specialty, who agreed to make custom colored chairs to accommodate the unique color scheme of the building.
Another attraction is the media center, which overlooks the cafeteria. This large, glassed-in area is also fashioned after a café. The media center, for all intents and purposes, is a 21st Century Learning space that replaces the traditional library — it has very little shelving, as students largely utilize their tablets for research rather than use physical books. GPD worked with the District to determine which furniture items would be most useful for the media center, and ultimately provided café style and serpentine seating, as well as mobile furniture to ensure that students would have many different seating options for their research, independent learning and collaborative group project needs. School Specialty worked with GPD to provide the products that Cindy Sakotas needed to while ensuring the quality and durability that she and District expected.
The innovative and high-quality furniture & equipment designed by GPD and provided by School Specialty have brought the real-world 21st Century Learning environment to Strongsville Middle School. The new facility is set to open for the 2016-17 school year, and District administrators look forward to offering local middle school students the kind of modern, exciting and transformative learning experience not previously offered to the community.