Architecture & Design, Construction, and Real Estate

Fremont High School's $40M building ranks as sixth 'techiest' in nation

December 26, 2012
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Fremont High School's $40M building ranks as sixth 'techiest' in nation
Fremont High School's MediaScape room incorporates Steelcase's media:scape group-collaboration technology. Photo by Jeff Tippett Photography

The sixth “techiest” high school in America is in Fremont.

The new and improved Fremont High School, located at 5421 South Warner Ave., is featured on the list of the "10 Techniest High Schools in America" by Online Degree Programs' blog.

“The whole program was $40 million, including design and everything,” said Josh Szymanski, Triangle Associates businesses development manager. “The construction aspect was $32 million.”

Construction, headed by Grand Rapids-based Triangle, began on the high school in June 2010 and finished in August 2012. Kingscott Associates served as architect on the project.

It was the only new Michigan high school that opened in 2012.

The blog notes the success of the school’s technological innovation with the use of video and teleconferencing systems, smart boards, science labs and an overall flexible and open architectural design.

In particular, the blog highlights Fremont’s MediaScape room, the first K-12 space in Michigan using Steelcase's media:scape technology, which Szymanski said is supposed to be “the next big thing for schools.”

In the MediaScape room, students work in pods around giant video screens, collaboratively learning or teleconferencing with video and Internet access.

“The MediaScape (is an) example of Fremont’s practice of 21st century learning principles — collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving,” said Fremont Public Schools Superintendent Jim Hieftje. “We also have a transformational ‘information commons’ incorporating three distinct informational environments: the traditional print with book stacks, the more traditional computer lab accessible to individual students or entire classrooms and another MediaScape learning lab.”

Rick Webb, director of technology for Fremont Public Schools, said a tool like MediaScape creates a niche for students with diverse learning styles to feel like they can engage each other.

The room also helps engage students with attention-deficit disorder, he said, and could help businesses in making workers more productive.

“ADD comes from the fact that you’re used to dealing with multiple inputs all the time, and it has to do with whether you can effectively tune other things out or not,” Webb said. “When materials are being presented in a more multi-faceted way and the material is there no matter where I am looking, I’m more likely to get engaged.”

The blog also praised the agricultural impact of the school, saying it fits the needs of the Fremont farming community.

“The agribusiness lab is fitting for the surrounding farming community,” according to the blog. “Even the construction of the building is techie, with its efficient energy system that includes geothermal wells for cooling, heating and melting snow on the sidewalks and copious windows for providing natural light.”

Fremont’s unique agriculture business and technology programs are training students at an early age to think about agricultural business, Webb said. Students farm on school-owned property and sell their products, which helps fund Fremont’s Future Farmers of America scholarships.

“We’re actually having the kids come up with what crops to grow based on the market values of the crops. They take the values of regional farmers and then look at the soil structure and think what crops would grow in that soil,” Webb said. “It is about pushing the technology collaboration we think is going to be used in the 21st century business world.”

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