We are excited to share an update on the work Saugatuck High School students are doing via our "arts|in" project based learning program - the amazing experiences and deep learning is continuing.
You may remember this past fall the entire Senior Class at Saugatuck High School participated in their "Senior Seminar" course which had been retooled as an arts|in experience. Student groups were paired with community business partners, and worked to solve real world problems identified by those businesses.
One of those student groups was paired with Twisthink's Director of Design & Strategy Gordon Stannis.
Team members Kit Huffman, Claire Conley, Stephen Gombas, Nick Stormer, and Xavier Cardona worked on this challenge question: How can we transform Saugatuck High School into a more productive and collaborative work space?
During their arts|in Senior Seminar, Mr. Stannis arranged for the students to tour Haworth & Herman Miller corporate offices and meet with designers and space planners. They also toured Holland High School to see how another high school addressed space issues.
By the end of the course the student team had designed two collaborative spaces for Saugatuck High School ... and they were fired up about bringing their dreams to fruition. But they faced two pretty major barriers: they had no funding for their project, and the trimester had come to a close, ending their arts|in course.
These facts, however, didn't deter the group. The students volunteered to keep working with Mr. Stannis, for as long as it would take, to see the project through. And they focused on creating a compelling vision that would excite potential funders.
The result: Mr. Stannis connected with colleagues at Herman Miller and Haworth ... and the students pitched their plans to executives at both companies. They answered questions and shared their passion for creating effective cultural change at Saugatuck High School via innovative space design.
The outcome: The companies were so impressed with the students' plans that both Haworth and Herman Miller are donating furniture to bring the plans to life! Another firm is donating oversized dry erase boards, and another is donating indoor plants.
The entire project will come to life later this Spring, creating long-term impact for students at Saugatuck High School.
This comment from Gordon Stannis illustrates the depth of this arts|in experience, both for the students and also for him as the community partner: "Since that initial meeting you have demonstrated imagination, creativity, and tenacity. You (as a team) have rallied. I have watched you grow as individuals and (more importantly) as a team. It has been my privilege to observe this."
Kit Huffman, one of the students in the group said this of her arts|in experience, "This was different because I was able to learn how to work in groups better. In other classes I only have a few days or just that class period to work in groups, but here I had 12 weeks to develop my skills. This will be very helpful in college and for real work experience."