Thursday, November 16, 2000

This design's for learning

Country Day opens new digs to visitors

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Country Day's new $20 million Upper School speaks to the future of education. Its new arts area, for example, solidifies the school's commitment to educating a well-rounded student.

        “The school, which has been steeped in academic tradition, now embraces the concept of the whole student,“ said Head of School Charles Clark.

        The building, to be dedicated Friday, has an arts area with a 535-seat theater, an art room with a garage door to accommodate large projects, photo and graphics labs and music rooms.

[photo] In the commons area, Rob Tuckman, dean of student life, can be heard loud and clear.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        “In the old building, the arts were found in different corners, decentralized in different areas of school,” Mr. Clark said. “What we wanted to do is bring the arts together as an integrated entity, so kids who excel in the arts have a place to go.”

        That's true, too, for the new technology/media center, where pupils who excel in information technology can cluster.

        “We want kids to be able to go find an area of comfort,” he said. “That's really the direction schools are going in. Schools are going to become more like community centers where people can find their interests.”

        Classrooms, Mr. Clark said, are no longer the sacrosanct centers of learning. “We designed the building with the idea that learning can take place anywhere, anytime.”

        At Country Day in Indian Hill, learning can now occur in commons areas throughout the Upper School, where the 287 students in grades 9-12 can study or hang out. A carpeted stairway, also used for assemblies and an area reserved for seniors are among the most popular spots.

[photo] The new building, completed in August, will be dedicated Friday.
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        “Kids like nooks and crannies,” Mr. Clark said. “Sometimes, the real learning goes on in those spaces. They like to have a hangout.”

        “I think this building is better because it's bigger,” said Matt Marshall, a 15-year-old sophomore. “It seems like it's more of an advanced learning environment. You have more open spaces to talk with friends and places to study.“

        Teachers are excited about the new building, too, with its capacity for 23 classrooms. John Jameson, science department chairman, said it's a more flexible facility.

        “We now have five complete labs that enable us to schedule and teach different kinds of classes in the same lab.”

        Cincinnati Country Day decided it needed a new school for two reasons:

        • The Upper School building was not in good condition.

        • The school wanted to better meet the needs of students.

        The project was about giving students more space to learn.

        The new building, at 97,000 square feet, is almost double the size of the old. Some areas are used by other students on campus, including the theater, dining room and technology/media center.

        The old school was torn down, and students spent last year in module units. The new school was finished in August. Gone are narrow hallways. The school has created open spaces wherever possible.

        “The students and faculty talk about it being inspirational and motivational to walk through the doors and go to class,” said Ralph Javens, director of communications.

        One would expect to hear that from teachers, he said, but it's a bonus to hear it from students.

        The new building will be dedicated at 6:30 p.m. Friday. at 6905 Given Road.


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