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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

EPI Center renovations lead way to future

For years the EPI Center served a variety of student, staff and parent meetings, such as adviser in-service, leadership team and student activities meetings. Teachers used this space to incorporate technology not available in other classrooms and to bring other classes together for collaboration or presentations.

According to New Trier’s website on future facilities plans, the average academic classroom size is 610 square feet. As a result, they are “inadequate for integration of technology, or for interactive and interdisciplinary learning,” making the EPI center one of the few places teachers, students and staff can experiment with technology and new methods of teaching.

As the school year slowly gets into gear, so does the newly improved EPI Center, equipped with new collaborative furniture and technology.

“The goal is to look at how we can use the intersection of furniture and the larger space to support teaching and learning in a different way,” said Christopher Johnson, Director of Technology at New Trier. “We want to know what we can do with multiple sources, like watching a video on one side of the screen while having a class discussion on the other.”

According to the renovation letter Johnson sent to Superintendent Linda Yonke, former budget director, Don Goers, and the Board of Education members, one of the main installations was the audio/visual system, the video wall.

This wall is composed of 42” monitor panels that can be controlled from a computer on a new lectern which will allow one to twelve sources to be displayed simultaneously. These sources include a video conference system, a computer based presentation, mobile device content such as laptops or iPads, a document camera and other video sources.

According to Johnson, this system will allow teachers and staff to connect to outside experts and other schools from around the world for videoconferences while having the ability to share work with outside presenters or experts.

The EPI Center’s renovation was completed a week before school started and this space has already been used for a number of different presentations, including French, Social Studies and IGGS classes.

Other upgrades included a new ceiling, flexible lighting, new doors, improvements to the HVAC system and new carpet. Even the new furniture supports collaboration and flexibility for groups whether they are watching a speaker or holding meetings and presentations.

According to Johnson, the total project cost was $368,500. Capital expenditures funded $268,500 and was approved in March of 2012; a capital request was in April 2013. The remaining $100,000 was funded by two foundation grants of $50,000.

“The alumni and The Education Foundation  were very generous. With the the two grants and the district’s capital funds, it is all essentially paid for,” said Johnson.

Even though there are still many renovations needed throughout the building including the Gates Gym and the arts wing, the board decided the EPI project was of high priority in order to test out new teaching methods, technology and furniture that could later be used in other classrooms in the future.

According to Johnson the EPI Center renovations did change or modify as a result of a future facilities project “Even in the proposed 2010 facilities project the Tower Building, which houses the EPI Center, was not slated for demolition, and the space would have been maintained as a meeting and collaboration space.”

“We”re already seeing what the teachers and students are bringing to the EPI center space. They will find interesting uses to the new technology and we are excited to find out what those are,” said Johnson.

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