Libertyville High School implements changes to its campus

A rest stop for students outside the library and the A-F LST has been installed, where students are able to sit, study, eat and drink during their free periods. This seating opens up more opportunities for students who would like to work on homework or study during lunch periods.

Over the summer, Libertyville High School made many changes, to both the physical building as well as to different student environments and resource areas.

One area that significantly changed is the library; new this year is “the Cat Creativity Lab, which is the maker space that students can use periods one through eight, and before school and after school,” said one of the LHS librarians, Mrs. Amy Wiggins. Here, students can use 3D pens, play chess or play with Play-Doh. Later this year, the librarians plan to bring out robots and a sticker machine.

Freshmen Kate Michuda and Bobby Kallieris enjoy using the Cat Creativity Lab during their study hall. “It’s a nice way to destress after you do your homework,” shared Michuda. So far, Kallieris has “made a chain necklace, two pairs of sunglasses, and the bottom of [a 3D puzzle].”

In addition to the Cat Creativity Lab, the library replaced the majority of its furniture, making the space more comfortable with easily moveable furniture to encourage collaboration between students. In the back room that was previously the fiction section, Mrs. Wiggins said there are now “break-out rooms… that allow [students] to collaborate on projects, or be a little bit louder, or hang out and work on their homework or projects in their own space in the back.” She noted that students are already taking advantage of these spaces.

In order to compensate for the new collaborative areas, there was also an individual work area installed where students are expected to remain silent while they work on homework, read or study. Students are now allowed to eat small snacks in the library and can have drinks other than water as long as the drinks are capped.

On top of the changes that have already been made, Mrs. Wiggins revealed hopes for the future of the library: “We’re really hoping that within the next year or two, we get a full renovation — we’re looking at new carpet, new lighting; we’re looking at new bookshelves and places for the books; we’re looking at different rooms that can be created: new walls put up and other walls brought down,” explained Mrs. Wiggins.

Outside of the library, many additional changes have been carried out. “The first biggest change would be the air conditioning on the second floor and hopefully, students felt the difference during these warm days when students came back to school,” shared Principal Dr. Tom Koulentes.

He explained that there was a computer system installed that controls all the air in the building, as well as AC units added in the hallways. He acknowledged that the new system hasn’t been flawless, but he is working alongside other administrators to perfect it. Senior Payton Golwas said that she noticed the change in temperature inside the building; she compared it to the first day of school last year, recalling that it was uncomfortably hot, so she expressed her gratitude for the new system.   

Another notable change was the design of certain classrooms: Dr. Koulentes described the new furniture as “more flexible furniture; furniture that is easily movable, furniture that can be adjusted for height, like standing desks or sitting desks, furniture that is more interactive so students can work in groups easier.” Some resource centers, such as the Drop-in Lab, were also redesigned, making them more comfortable and giving students the ability to work together at times. The DIL was also moved from room 150 to the old PAWS room, 006.

These changes are meant to be more than aesthetic; they are intended to enhance students’ learning experiences: “We understand that learning needs to be more active, students need to be more collaborative with one another, they need to be able to move, they need to get into small groups or large groups, so classroom furniture has to be flexible,” Dr. Koulentes said.

New LHS librarian Mrs. Melissa Aubin, formerly an English teacher at LHS, had a similar explanation as to why the library made such significant changes: “It’s a place where students love to come and we wanted to continue that, but we also felt that now with different areas in the school that are accomodating for students to collaborate, we wanted to be part of that process, so we want areas where students feel comfortable coming to either collaborate or to work independently.”

Both Dr. Koulentes and Mrs. Aubin have seen improvements as a result of some of the changes made. “Students, rather than maybe being on their phones or on their Chromebooks, are deciding to go [to the Cat Creativity Lab] instead,” shared Mrs. Aubin.

While it’s too early to tell if the redesign of classrooms has made an impact, Dr. Koulentes noted the positive feedback about the later start time, another change this year: “Teachers are reporting that kids are more awake first period. Parents and students are telling me they love the new schedule because they are able to sleep longer.” Instead of the 7:30 a.m.-2:50 p.m. bell schedule, LHS now starts at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 3:25 p.m. To allow this change to be made, every period was shortened by five minutes.

“I’m a fan because I can definitely tell a lot has changed so far,” Golwas shared. “Getting more sleep helps with school.”