Student Reimagines West Freshman Innovation Hub

Student Reimagines, Transforms West Freshman Innovation Hub
Posted on 01/24/2019
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Lora Broz in West Freshman Innovation HubLakota West freshman Lora Broz did more than just reimagine her school’s media center, recently turned Innovation Hub. She made her vision a reality, rolling out the red carpet for her classmates’ return from winter break and just in time for the school’s rollout of Chromebooks to every student.

The idea first took shape through a project in Lora’s language arts class, for which she chose to research the environmental factors that improve student learning. She focused a lot on the impact of color, discovering that green is “relaxing and improves concentration”, while blue “makes you think outside the box.” Other factors, like furniture selection and configurations, were among her research, too.

Lora wasn’t initially basing her research around any particular space at West Freshman or elsewhere. But when her teacher, Catherine Bella, saw its potential application to the school’s up-and-coming Innovation Hub, she encouraged her to take it a step further. Lora presented it to a committee comprised of school and district leaders overseeing the school’s media center transformation. The response from the group was overwhelmingly positive, giving her the green light to bring her ideas to life in West’s new Innovation Hub.

“Honestly, my first reaction was that she had bit off more than she could chew!” said West Freshman Associate Principal Jason Jackson. “The size of the room, the timeline we needed to follow and all the moving parts that went along with the conversion of the media center to the Hub was a huge task.”

But Jackson and others were impressed by the speed with which Lora moved and the tenacity with which she inspired others to help her transform the space to match the shared vision of her project and that of district and school leaders. She recruited more than 25 student volunteers, along with parents and staff members, to give up three days of winter break to paint the huge space.

The fresh paint made way for a completely re-configured space, replacing the room that was once full of bookcases with all different collaboration stations, multiple green screen production studios, a 3D printer and virtual reality stations.  

“I feel like the 1:1 idea is going to empower us to create more and share more ideas. I hope this space gives us a place to come together and do those things,” said Broz, describing the revamped space as “uplifting and relaxing.”  

The most recent improvements are just laying the foundation for the school’s new Hub, designed to support hands-on, application-based learning through collaboration, creativity and digital learning. While the school awaits a delivery of furniture to replace some of the decades-old pieces, Lora still hasn’t seen through other ideas in her plan that give students ownership of the space. This includes giving each class one of the space’s pillars to make their own and leave their mark.

One thing’s for sure though; Lora has left her own mark on Lakota West Freshman.

“The fact that this was a student led project makes a huge difference in how I view that space. I think that’s probably true for everyone involved,” Jackson said. “This is a student who invested heavily into something that she will only get to use for a few months, but other groups will use for years to come.”

“That is what a community is about and Lora and the others who helped have led by example,” he continued. “Besides being a great resource for our students’ learning, the Hub is a physical example of what our students are capable of if we let them follow their vision.”

Photo: Lakota West freshman Lora Broz infused ideas from a language arts project into the recent transformation of the school's media center into an Innovation Hub. Her work included leading a group of volunteers to paint the new space for three days over winter break.