School renovation options show promise for the future of East

A big change could be on the horizon for EGRHS. Larger classrooms, better lab spaces, and more social areas for students and faculty to enjoy.

On Oct. 8, a meeting was held in the learning commons, including several students and staff, with one purpose; conceptualize a potential construction project for the high school.

“I thought that the meeting was very collaborative and an eye-opening experience to what other students desire out of a school environment,” Sam Mitchell ‘23 said.

This massive undertaking has been given to Pure Architects, an architectural design firm based in the Great Lakes region.

There are two possible ways of going forward, ‘Updating’ or ‘Transforming.’ ‘Updating’ would mean renovating spaces that currently exist in the high school.

“In the updating plan we’re really focused on refreshing space, so that’s like leaving walls and doors and teaching walls where they are, and then really updating lighting and carpeting and paint finishes.” Zach Verhulst, the CEO of Pure Architecture, said.

Transforming would mean an addition made to the building.

“Transforming [would mean] reconfiguring classrooms, which that’s the differentiator between the two,” Verhulst said.

The focus of the transforming plan would be introducing more spaces for students to socialize, and by updating facilities that students will use in their learning.

“We’re talking about having a more open space that would be more with the transforming plan where you add on a section,” Verhulst said.

The project is still in its early stages, however, and won’t be finished until 2026.

The decisions are being driven by student and faculty feedback. The meeting consisted of three stations, one about classroom design, one about parking improvements, and one about the preferred style of the building.

“Ultimately our goal is to find patterns in, in the decision making of the group that we’re trying to serve,” Verhust said.

The idea is to get a clear picture of the ideal learning environment from the people who would be the most affected by it. The project designers also asked questions about preferred improvements, such as improved science labs, cafe-like internet spaces, and more open social spaces.

Ideally, this project will improve not only the ability of the students to learn but their overall attitude about coming to school.

“Mental health and student well-being is a focus, I think, for everybody in this project,” Verhulst said.

Verhulst expects the ‘transform’ plan to surface as the preferred option for the students and faculty.

“There’s this desire to have the building reflect the great things that happen inside of it, and I think for us to be able to do that, the transforming option will emerge as a desired option,” Verhulst said.

That sentiment was echoed by Mitchell.

“I would prefer the transforming [plan]… in the long run, I think it’ll be really cool to see how our school can move in for the future,” Mitchell ‘23 said.

One of the remaining hurdles for this renovation is drumming up the support for this change, as it could be costly.

“I know Anthony [Morey] has shared the most that we could borrow. Not to suggest that that’s what we would do, but I think that’s somewhere in the hundred and thirties of millions,” Verhulst said.

He remains hopeful, however, that the community will be receptive to this change.

“So far, we’ve heard from a bunch of different stakeholder groups; from parents, students, and faculty that there’s this desire to have the building reflect the great things that happen inside of it,” Verhulst said.

As fun as it is to think about the possible changes that our school could see, the changes are just over the horizon as of right now.