By students for students: High school student center to open

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–After Muscatine High School’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) wing opened in 2020 and teachers moved into its new classrooms, it left the old science rooms empty. Wanting to repurpose the area to better meet the needs of students, district and school staff opted to convert the area into a new student center, with various support services, such as counselors offices, the nurse’s office, and the Student Success Center, adjoining it. Beginning in October 2021, 11 junior and senior students interested in design worked alongside members of the HON Company to create a space students would enjoy studying, relaxing, and socializing in. Oct. 3, with the finishing touches going on the new space, the students who helped design the student center toured it prior to its opening.

Throughout the past year, the students worked closely with the members of their teams to fill the student center and give it an appealing look. “Our biggest role was taking the floorplan they gave us and picking out furniture and finishes for it,” explained Kyleia Salyars, a senior. After receiving a catalogue from HON filled with different furniture choices, students started thinking about what pieces would best suit students doing different activities and what would make the student center accessible to everyone. They also surveyed the student body about their preferences for finishes, helping give the student center a look that the people using it would enjoy.

With all of the furniture in place, the students who had worked so hard on the project got a sneak peek at the fruits of their labors. “It feels really good to have it all done,” shared Kyleia. “I’m excited to be a part of something that everyone will get to see and use.”

Part of the student team that helped design the new student center at Muscatine High School: Maya Perez, Gabe Sanchez, Brenden Steele, Sarah Ziegenhorn, Kyleia Salyars, and Jolie Riesenberg. Not pictured: Caleb Bettis, Carson Cooper, Verenise Colmenero Carrillo, Courtney Hull, and Ellyse Shippee. Photo by Margaret Hurlbert.

Along with the large common area students helped design, which includes a variety of types of tables, easy chairs, and couches conducive to group work and to socializing, the student center had a variety of additional spaces. A row of conference rooms available for students and teachers to check out will provide areas for more private study as well as for tutoring. A new counseling wing will give grade level guidance counselors; college, career, and work-based learning counselors; and various types of traveling therapists dedicated spaces to meet with students. Just outside the main common area, a new Student Success Center will provide more space for students participating in online credit recovery as well as for students who would benefit from a monitored study hall with teachers available to help with several subject areas. A spacious nurse’s office will house several curtained off beds with individual lighting controls, a separate, quieter and darker room for students with migraines, two restrooms, a secure records room, and offices for the nurse and health para overlooking the student beds.

A meaningful opportunity for students to improve their school and explore a career field of interest, counselor Brandon Welsch felt pleased that Muscatine High School could partner with HON to provide this experience. “It really gave them exposure to the real world of work,” he said. “They’ve done a lot in the classroom, but until you give them deadlines and the resources that a company like the HON Company has, it’s hard to fully understand the world of work.”

Facilities and Maintenance Director of Operations Ryan Castle valued just how much students contributed to the project and to a space that will serve their peers. “It really feels like this project has their footprint on it and like they designed it.”

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