New Arizona High School Blends Functionality with Comfort in its Common Areas
- December 22, 2022
- Anthony Bowie
When Crismon High School in Queen Creek, Ariz., opened its doors for the first time for the 2022-23 school year, the school welcomed more than 1,000 students into its new facility. Its administrators had spent an entire year planning out the new school, scouting locations and managing the other details for what would become Queen Creek USD’s third high school.
“All of last year was spent planning the enrollment, curriculum, furniture and other elements of our new school,” said Elyse Torbert, Principal. For example, the school held a “furniture fair” specifically targeting its student spaces. Those spaces included the classrooms, media lounge space, and cafeteria.
“We held the fair just to get a grasp on what we wanted those spaces to look like and what we were looking for in terms of our values,” said Torbert, “including one-to-one spaces equipped with technology and comfortable common areas where students could feel free to hang out in.”
In those common areas, Crismon High School’s administrators wanted furniture that promoted a specific atmosphere, environment and culture. Some of the school’s classrooms serve as maker spaces, labs and art classes—all in the same space. Both multipurpose and student-friendly, its cafeteria is not only a place to eat but also an inviting space for meetings, cheer practice and other events.
The school called on MiEN for help bringing its vision to life in the new educational facility. “Our goal was to equip each space with technology, moveable furniture, comfortable seating and/or adaptable seating,” said Torbert. “We wanted to create a very inviting space.”
Working with MiEN, Torbert and her team selected chairs, stools, high-top tables, soft seating and couches, the latter of which can be pulled apart and used independently, if so desired. These modular options allowed the new school to satisfy a variety of different needs with the same furniture. “We have spaces that serve different parts of our student population,” Torbert explained.
Dana Sloan, Administrative Assistant, said the school also invested in wheeled furniture that’s equipped with casters and easy to move around. This was particularly important for the cafeteria, where custodial staff can easily move and clean under the chairs and tables.
“Everything that has wheels can be moved or easily pushed around, so no one has to lift the furniture,” said Sloan. “That’s something you don’t always think about when you’re selecting furniture, but having those big, moveable pieces turned out to be very beneficial.”
Crismon High School’s students love congregating, socializing and learning in their new school’s cafeteria. “To them, it’s like being on a college campus or mall seating area,” said Sloan. “They invest in it and want to take care of it.” The space includes nooks and crannies for the students who want quiet time to read a book and features furniture that’s easy to clean and wipe down between uses.
“We can easily move things and clean up, especially as we transition from one lunch to the next,” said Torbert, who enjoyed the process of mapping out the new spaces and selecting the furniture, colors and other elements that went into them.
“Coming into this I didn’t realize the huge difference that the right furniture can make both for your physical building and in relation to your school’s core values and collaboration,” said Torbert. “Having areas where kids can meet in small pockets or larger groups—plus the moveable furniture and one-to-one technology—all goes hand-in-hand.”
Crismon High School recently hosted its first-ever Fall Festival. It invited vendors to display their products and services along the cafeteria’s turf area that also features outdoor seating. As a DJ was spinning the top hits, students danced, played games and enjoyed some light snacks. The school will also be using the space for school and athletic banquets.
The school is currently constructing a junior high school building to complement the classrooms, cafeteria, gym and auditorium that it already has in place. It will then build an additional facility for athletics, including physical buildings and fields. Enrollment is expected to increase for the 2023-24 school year thanks to a new, incoming seventh-grade class. “From there, we’ll just keep growing,” said Torbert.