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Students Leading the Way Creating 21st Century Classrooms

Students participate in FMP exercises

October 26, 2021 -- A group of sixth graders at Hilltonia Middle School worked on a memorable, interactive classroom exercise where they told the adults, in this case, a team of architects and District administrators, what 21st-century learning spaces should look like at Columbus City Schools. This classroom experience is one part of the multi-faceted Facilities Master process, community-led conversations about the future of District school buildings and facilities and what they need to look like to meet the vision of academic success and students leading the way.

“The time with the architects and District administrators was probably the best 90 minutes I’ve had as an educator ever,” said Hilltonia Middle School Career Technical Education Instructor Alex Traxler. Traxler, the owner of Griffen Hollow Studio, a Columbus custom design and fabrication studio, was hired at Hilltonia last year to help expose students at an earlier age, such as middle school, to career technical education pathways as construction and design.

“My class just completed a course in blueprints, so when the architects brought this simulated exercise to my students and told them to figure out what school buildings should look like for students just like them, they had so much fun,” said Traxler. “The fact that it was real school buildings made it so cool.”

Using charts, photos, and monopoly-sized building pieces, the students and architects moved pieces around and brainstormed about the future possibilities for CCS school buildings. At one of three workstations set up in the classroom, students had to pick photos of learning spaces that resonated with them and then explain why.

“This was so much fun because these students brought a whole different perspective to the process,” said the Director of the Office of Capital Improvements, Alex Trevino. “These students weren’t like the adults in the room who had been very wrapped up in the process. These students provided us with a whole different perspective. They let their voices be heard.”

Alex Traxler was so impressed with his students. “I was humbled that my students were not thinking of themselves, but the students that will come after them,” said Traxler. “That was so awesome to hear and see.”

As the District continues to engage the community in the Facilities Master Plan process, Alex Trevino and the team of architects plan to visit every school by the first of the new year so students can let their voices be heard as they lead the way.