New media center unveiled at Ephrata High School

By on October 10, 2018
Photo by Sarah McBee (Left to right) Vanessa Teleguz, Jonathan Weiss, Evan Martin, Hunter Trimble, Ethan Huber, and Joanna  Mantsevich pose for a selfie with state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera.

(Left to right) Vanessa Teleguz, Jonathan Weiss, Evan Martin, Hunter Trimble, Ethan Huber, and Joanna Mantsevich pose for a selfie with state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera. Photo by Sarah McBee

Staff at Ephrata High School are not only preparing students for the future, they’re ushering them through that door and giving them figurative VIP passes.

The newly renovated media center at the high school acts as a bridge between the students’ current high school experience and their secondary education careers and future life experience with all sorts of jobs.

“We’re trying to make this a logical step before they go to college or any work place and to give them the options of how they want to work here,” said Superintendent Brian Troop. “When the kids come here, they have more choices, and with more choices, they do better work. There is plenty of seating to accommodate, whether they want to work alone, in pairs, or groups. Students may work in small groups for collaborative teaching, discuss group projects or just work independently.”

The new media center is open for all students in grades nine through twelve.

Renovations began as an interactive student design challenge in 2017. Students worked in small groups to plan the center and worked with district administrators and architects throughout the project.

On Oct. 3, the high school held an open house for the community to celebrate the new media center, with 25 high school students serving as tour guides. The event was attended by Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, who toured the area and spoke with students and administrators.

Ephrata High School Media Center Open House

The large open area that is the media center now has more areas to facilitate group learning and boasts state of the art technology, with numerous charging areas for laptops, and walls and inside windows made to be written on for large mathematical equations or other involved projects.

“The coolest feature of the whole project is the fact that it grew from our students,” Troop said. “They were involved in the design process from the beginning and the students exceeded expectations with the great ideas they incorporated into the plan.”

The second floor center is situated where a smaller former media center had been located, and covers the area where three classrooms had been a year ago. Those classrooms held large computers and had become outmoded. Keeping with current technology, students now have their own laptops, so those classrooms were no longer necessary in their present form.

“We didn’t need those labs for kids anymore since they have their own laptops, so this space is better utilized,” Troop said. “Another design element we didn’t have before is the cafe.”

Students can choose to have a snack or drink while in the media center and the cafe is open all day, making it a more welcoming area for the students.

Ephrata High School Media Center Open House
Media Center Cafe pictured (left) Terri Gamez, Food Service Director and Jessica Crosbie, Food Service Employee.

While the media center has a number of specified areas, like the interactive green room for filming, a tech support area, and cafe, much of the entire area is open-concept, with plenty of outside light coming in.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Senior Jonathan Weiss. “To sit down alone to study, or to study in a group, you have the space here. Each of the sections for seating have charges for the laptops, so it really creates a flexible learning environment.”

A second set of stairs needed to be installed for the project and the stairs have “learning areas” on the way, Troop said.

A downstairs entrance has also been renovated. The entire project covers about 20,000 square feet.

Amid all the high-tech changes, the media center also has a vertical hydroponics garden, currently growing leafy lettuce. Some of the produce from the garden will be used in the cafeteria.

On the walls are in-house TVs to show school menus, school sports scores, and daily information. Students can program LED lighting for better ambiance.

Ephrata High School Media Center Open House: Learning Stairs located at the front of the high school.

In the green room, the high-tech screen can be programmed with software to display all sorts of scenery, to make it seem as if a student is standing in meadows or among mountains while giving a report.

Books also enhance the area, with topics covering the gamut of non-fiction and fiction.

The media center is enhanced with a hexagonal pattern to represent the Life-Ready-Graduate policy of the school.

“The hexagon is embedded throughout the center and the students came up with that,” said Sarah McBee, Media and Community Relations Director.

The pattern can be found on everything from the drop ceiling to the furniture.

All of the furniture is mobile, for times when students have to break away from a group to work in a smaller conclave of three or four, McBee said.

With glossy walls for writing equations, a tech support area run by students, and charging systems for laptops, the library media center is a state-of-the-art learning center.

“The possibilities are endless,” Troop said.

The media center has already become a big draw for the students.

“My favorite parts are all of the extra seating; it’s a great space to study,” said senior Sydney Reiff. “From the TV monitors that have events to the hydroponics garden, I think it’s really cool.”

Giving students input into the design was a stroke of genius, Reiff added.

“We basically started out with a blank canvas,” said senior Joanna Mantsevich, who helped to design the center. “We had access to the blueprint and there were certain requirements. Some things were already there, like the book section and circulation desk and we merged those with other things. Later, we worked on the kind of furniture we would need.”

“The whole atmosphere, the flow, is great,” said senior Vanessa Teleguz. “There are different sections to do different things, and the color, the geometry of it all makes it a good place to work and study in.”

In a news release, Dr. Troop said the new library media center promotes collaboration, creativity, and independence, while reflecting the wants and needs of the students.

Troop said he envisions the media center becoming the centerpiece of the high school.

Marylouise Sholly is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.


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