Classrooms go high-tech

New schools in Oroville and Palermo boast cutting-edge designs and equipment

The architecture of Ishi Hills Middle School in Oroville follows the American Indian idea that life is circular.

The architecture of Ishi Hills Middle School in Oroville follows the American Indian idea that life is circular.

Photo By Chelsey Shoop

Students take notes on laptops as the teacher uses the Internet to explore an idea from one of their classmates. That will be the common scenario at two new schools—a middle school in Oroville and an elementary school in Palermo—where technology will be a valuable tool.

Golden Hills Elementary School in Palermo will help ease overcrowding at Helen Wilcox Elementary School. The purpose of the new fourth- and fifth-grade school was to allow empty spaces for new students to fill without having to worry about overcrowding, Principal Carol Brown said.

“We were running out of space at Wilcox; we were using the stage to teach on,” Brown said.

The new campus currently has two pods of classrooms with six classrooms each, a basketball court, tetherball poles, monkey bars over a spongy surface, an office and a cafeteria that will serve food brought over from neighboring Wilcox. Another pod is being built, another will be constructed soon, and a multipurpose room and library are works to come.

Learning spaces have the markings of any ordinary schoolroom: rules and posters pinned on the walls, desks marked with nametags and a teacher’s desk in the corner. Yet they also resemble college classrooms: Computers rest along the back wall, a laptop that can be turned into a tablet sits on a table, and everything is connected to the Internet.

“What we’re trying to do is merge their worlds,” Superintendent Sam Chimento said, “show the kids that technology is more than entertainment, but also see it as a tool for productivity.”

Another major difference between this school and most is that there is no computer lab. Instead, the campus has a portable lab that contains 32 laptops that can be used wirelessly in each classroom.

Ishi Hills Middle School in Oroville applied technology in a more conventional sense and used traditional ways of thought to the buildings on campus.

The entire campus was created following the American Indian idea that life is circular. Hallways, outdoor study centers and even the classrooms follow the rounded theme. Each classroom has a bank of computers. A rolling lab with 30 computers and a computer lab with 34 stations are all available for students.

Superintendent Donald Remley and Assistant Superintendent Andrea Dunn are most excited about the science labs.

“Science and technology was a focus at our school here,” Dunn said.

Three science labs—one of which is a math lab for the time being—are fully equipped with a shower, functioning gas nozzles and a fully loaded demonstration table for the teacher. The for-teachers-only back room contains all supplies needed for the dissections and experiments the students will perform.

“This lab is similar to one you would find at a university,” Remley said.

The school will house sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Shirley Stumbaugh, one of the seventh-grade language arts teachers, is new to the school and said she eagerly anticipated the beginning of the new year.

“I liked the technology aspect of the new school,” Stumbaugh said. “We have all new computers, LCD projectors, Internet access … you should see the science lab!”