Students help design new Clark Co. learning center

Digital learning center scheduled to open at Career ConnectED

Space will be designed to help students learn in new ways.

The center, which is expected to open this fall, will be located under the historic dome in the former South High School building, where the library was once located. It is part of a renovation project funded in part by an $11 million Straight A grant to transform a portion of the building into the Greater Springfield Career ConnectED Center.

SCSD spokeswoman Kim Fish said she expects the digital learning center to cost about $200,000.

“It has a lot of potential,” Springfield High School senior Jorge Gutierrez said. “Opening up this kind of (center) to kids around here would really motivate them, get them to chase their dreams.”

Fish, who is organizing the project, said the district has been looking at similar centers across the county for eight months now.

“It’s a new way to learn,” Fish said. “Students now learn very differently. They learn anytime, anywhere, and it is really their interest that propels their learning.”

Fish explained the center will have a relaxed atmosphere and most likely be open after school from 2-8 p.m. on most weekdays and some hours on Saturdays.

High school students from SCSD, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center and the Global Impact STEM Academy — the member schools of the Straight A grant consortium — will all have access to the facility initially. SCSD hopes to make the facility open to students from other area districts in the future.

The center could include 3-D printers, audio recording studios, photography labs and other media to prepare students for emerging industries. The FUSE Studios software that will be used is developed by the Northwestern University office of STEM education, which is focused on middle and high school students. SCSD will be the first in Ohio to use it.

“To me, being able to do what I want to do at a place like this would really motivate me,” Gutierrez said. “It would really inspire me to wake up every morning and work hard.”

Gutierrez and about a dozen other students met with the architects who will design the space. They discussed the layout and colors, in addition to the technologies they want in the facility. The students also broke out into smaller groups and discussed what rules the facility should have — for example, what kind of lyrics will be allowed to be recorded in the studios.

Gutierrez, a Springfield native, said he is just glad to see something moving into the facility that benefits the community.

“When people say ‘South High School,’ you think of some abandoned, run-down school building that’s completely empty,” he said. “Seeing all the stuff that is happening and getting renovated is inspiring. It’s really good see this happening in this community.”

Fish she hopes to have tours available for the public to see the space this summer, before it opens in August.

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