January 2017 marked an historical month for Brewster High School. Our new and improved library opened to the students of BHS with a new name: the Innovative Learning Center, or ILC. With five Chrome computers, lounge seating, and multiple collaboration areas, Brewster’s Innovative Learning Center provides a welcoming and comfortable area for students to join forces in toppling their academic challenges. The four group work spaces and presentation room are ours to use with teacher supervision.
This new learning center is an optimal way to increase productivity and comfortability within the walls of BHS. Students, with teachers’ passes, may gather around the graffiti board to explain and draw out problems pertaining to our school work. Along the bar seating, students may study or tutor each other. Since the ILC is a quiet learning place, teachers may use the space to have students make up tests.
Teachers and administrators may host project presentations and district meetings in the iTheatre. The iTheatre contains thirty-five seats aligned in stadium seating with a large flat screen television to provide a perfect place to participate in a college-like setting. Teachers may use the space for lecturing and presenting information to students on various topics.
Additionally, a group like the Model United Nations club can use the iTheater for hosting conferences. Too often, presentations are dwarfed by the classroom environment. As a crisis director in a Model United Nations conference, one has the opportunity to lead or alter yesterday during a historical time period. Participating in one of these conferences held in the new iTheater would mimic the feeling of a collegiate Model UN conference.
As a STEM student, I constantly find myself using the library as a location to study and review work. With the new lounge seating, I may review with friends while feeling calm and relaxed. Using the graffiti wall, we write and collaborate on complex equations and collectively derive study methods for our upcoming tests.
However, it has also been observed that the ILC is not receiving the anticipated attendance. The number of students in the ILC during any period throughout the day is underwhelming and teachers are not using the expansive space and innovative environment as one might have expected. It is rare to see the group workspace rooms being used.
Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! From my first day in the iTheatre I knew there were multiple issues. First, there were no sound dampeners and there is an audible echo within the room. Second, there is clear glass on both ends of the iTheater which allows light from both the back door and sunny window, causing slight glare. Third, and finally, the speakers are too weak to spread quality sound. Being in a revolutionary and modernized room, one expects that the room should have balanced Surround Sound.
These are all easy fixes. Now that the student body is almost 1:1 with technology, I believe the Brewster Central School District should create two Subreddit accounts for Brewster: one for the district itself, which would allow parents to post questions for administrators, student scholars, and teachers. The district Subreddit could also be used as a way of posting articles, technology tutorials, and YouTube videos. The other Subreddit could belong to the high school. Students could ask fellow students questions, post sporting and arts and theater event announcements. Both of these Subreddits would be overseen by administrators and faculty members, but could be administered by a student committee.
As a senior STEM student, these possibilities excite me. Although I am a student a Brewster High School for only three more months, the potential for a real world experience is strong. The ILC is a collaborative setting and is putting trust in its students to be accountable and responsible; students can gather here to solve problems and together, figure out solutions, and the 1:1 Chromebooks will allow students to work 24/7.