Horicon School District, WI–
Choosing a Partner to Help Create New Learning Spaces
The School District of Horicon needed to update their schools to provide modern, economical learning environments for their student body. A successful referendum allowed them to build a large elementary addition onto their combined high school and middle school, as well as renovate their existing spaces, including the library, classrooms, and offices.
During their referendum project, the district and its hired architectural firm, Bray Architects, selected Demco as their furniture supplier because they trusted the team to focus on truly understanding the needs of the students, teachers, and administrators who’d be impacted by the new spaces.
“Demco’s personal approach and the connections that I felt with them elevated them to the top of our list,” said Superintendent Rich Appel. “They started out working within our budget with quality options and sustained that same standard throughout our experience with them. The communication that my staff and I had with them was outstanding and allowed for input and decision-making by the stakeholders.”
Setting Goals for the Project
The school district’s leaders and staff wanted to create warm, welcoming environments — spaces where students and staff could learn, explore, and collaborate.
Flexibility was key, as their spaces would be used by a range of age groups, from their youngest learners to their staff members, and the ability to easily clean surfaces was also an important factor for the district.
Selecting the Right Furnishings
Demco’s challenge was to achieve the collective vision of the architect and the district for the new spaces while staying within the project budget. The Demco team’s expertise, coupled with the breadth of their product portfolio, enabled them to understand key features of the furniture specified by the architect and propose price-competitive alternatives that satisfied the district’s needs.
For example, Demco’s recommended alternative to the furniture originally specified for the administrative offices resulted in more than 60% savings without sacrificing quality or functionality.
To ensure students and teachers were involved in the process, the Demco team shipped a number of sample items to the school for testing, visited the school two weeks later to collect feedback, and then incorporated that feedback into the final furniture recommendation.
“This really helped us decide what we wanted and what would offer the most variety and flexibility for our students,” said Elementary Principal Lisa Sawyer.
Creating Flexible Learning Spaces in the New Elementary School
With mobile work surfaces and comfortable seating, the elementary classrooms allow for easy reconfiguration for individual, small-group, and large-group instruction. The new classrooms are built around common areas in the hallways that feature writable surfaces and a variety of seating options that allow for one-on-one and small-group instruction.
“Students and staff are very excited about the new spaces. Students love working in the family area and having so many choices of seating. It makes the area very inviting and homier,” said Sawyer.
Having multiple learning spaces and easy-to-clean furniture also proved to be a wise choice when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“The flexibility in usage of the space has been very nice. Staff has appreciated being able to use more spaces for student learning and to spread out. This has been especially helpful with COVID restrictions. Students, staff, and families have all reacted positively to the new learning environment,” said Sawyer.
In the new elementary library, a mix of shelving, including face-out browsing bins and strategically placed displays, houses the collection. Mobile tables ensure the space can be quickly repurposed when needed. A mix of seating, including a ColorScape Playpod and benches, creates a welcoming atmosphere that invites students to learn, read, and relax.
Updating the Middle School and High School
Based on their positive experience with the team, the district chose to partner with Demco for additional middle and high school classrooms and library spaces, more than doubling the size of the project.
The district’s goals for updating their secondary schools were to provide a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that allowed students to choose where they work best. Like in their elementary spaces, easy-to-clean furnishings were also an important consideration for the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The Demco team worked with the district to inventory existing furniture and integrate new furnishings to create flexible, inviting classrooms and an updated library, cafeteria, and commons.
In the updated library, all-new Demco LibraCraft shelving highlights the library’s collection and a mix of seating and table heights allows students to work either seated or standing. Mobile tables and strategically arranged lounge furniture give students places to read, study, and collaborate.
The commons area next to the cafeteria provides another area for collaboration and socializing with a mix of seating options, including easy-to-clean high-backed seating with a laptop bar on the reverse side and café-height tables and chairs.
Giving students the opportunity to spend time outside was another priority for the district. And, along with other schools across the country, outdoor seating and learning areas became an invaluable resource during the pandemic. New outdoor seating and tables allow students to get the health benefits of being outdoors and closer to nature.
The renewal of these learning spaces has had a positive impact on both students and staff, and it has inspired a sense of community throughout the school. “The pride demonstrated by our students and our community is striking,” said Middle School Principal Mike LeBouton.