Public invited to tour Collaboration Center

Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Shakespeare's oft-quoted, "What's in a name?" has taken on new significance at Avonworth High School/Middle School where the library no longer is a library, but a "Collaboration Center," instead.

As high school principal Dr. Kenneth Lockette explained, "The library name change was to emphasize how the space was to be utilized. Most people perceive libraries as quiet places where a librarian says, "Shush" when one walks in. We wanted the name to reflect the idea of student collaboration, where there is brainstorming, planning and activity."

Area residents will have the opportunity to tour the Collaboration Center during an open house scheduled for Thursday, May 8, beginning at 7 p.m.

Lockette described some of the features visitors will see. "There is a large group instruction/video conferencing room with state-of-the art video conferencing equipment and monitors for distance learning opportunities to connect with experts and students locally, nationally and around the globe. There is a maker lab for core classes to make, experiment, design and invent. It features a 3-D printer, a cabinet of various tools, and will be stocked with various supplies for circuitry, tinkering, woodwork, sewing, and other pro-jects."

There also is a counter of Mac computers, as well as added seating and classroom space.

Lockette said that the project was funded primarily through a $170,000 grant obtained from the Grable Foundation. "The District included some in-kind funding, including new carpeting and some furniture."

In planning and designing the space, a team of teachers, students and administrators made various visits locally to collaborative spaces, including Maya Consulting, the Entertainment Technology Center at CMU, the Create Lab at CMU, the Makeshop at the Children's Museum, and the Elizabeth Forward School District, which underwent a similar renovation in its high school library.

The changes have not impacted the basic offerings of the library, according to Lockette. "The space was redesigned to be more open, but there are plenty of books, databases and other resources available for projects and independent reading."

He acknowledged that the downside to the project was having to complete it during the school year. "The construction schedule was delayed, so there was some disruption. The upsides are many, however, and will continue to add as the student body and faculty grow with the space, particularly with further development of the maker lab and increased curricular supports with increased use of video conferencing. The students have enjoyed the space and have found it to be more comfortable," he said.

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