Wednesday October 7, 2015 8:33 AM
A summer of hard work has resulted in a new Center for Inspiration multimedia center at Walnut Springs Middle School.
Even though school has been in session for a while, district officials still wanted to have a formal dedication. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Sept. 17 for students, staff and school officials during a tailgate to celebrate the new 7,000-square-foot library space.
Superintendent John Kellogg, school board President Tracy Davidson and members Richard Bird, Nancy Nestor-Baker and Rick Vilardo were on hand, as were Principal Becca Yanni and library media specialist Jean Trimble.
During the first week of school, students already had checked out three times the number of books as they did a year ago, according to information from the district.
Contractor GHM Inc. completed $374,538 worth of renovations (approximately $65 per square foot) approved by the school board Feb. 9.
The renovations were part of the district's five-year capital improvement plan, which is funded by a permanent improvement levy approved by voters in 2009.
Yanni thanked the district, the school board, Kellogg, Jeff LeRose, Triad Architects, the construction team and Trimble for their vision for the Center for Inspiration.
"To be inspired is to be influenced with the spirit of something. This space magnifies that spirit for our students and staff," Yanni said. "The students of Walnut inspire us each day. They are making middle school matter and making each moment count."
The design concept evolved from a media center to a multimedia center that includes music, art and literature.
The back corner has a small room for a television studio and a green screen so students can star in and produce in the school's WOLF TV, as well as a "maker space" for creative projects such as 3-D printing and die-cutting.
The space offers amenities such as coffeehouse-style furniture, booth seating, club chairs wrapped around a three-sided virtual fireplace, and a high-tech audio system.
There also are two offices, a computer bar, an outdoor learning environment and a flexible classroom that opens to the main area via two glass garage doors.
So far, students are loving the new space.
"The Center for Inspiration is like Panera Bread, but with books," eighth-grader Madison Morrison said. "It's a fun and comfortable place to do homework, research and do some reading.
"The maker space is also great for anyone who enjoys building or wants to use their imagination and add some more fun to your day," Morrison added.
"The Center for Inspiration is an inspiring, comfortable place that has really cool opportunities for students to grow. I go in there every other day as much as I can," seventh-grader Emylee Preston said.
Walnut Springs has about 950 students in grades 6-8.
The school opened in 1965 as Westerville Junior High School, the first junior high in the district. The name was changed to Walnut Springs Middle School in 1967, based on a recommendation from the Citizens' Advisory Council.
Past projects to create inspirational educational spaces have earned national recognition for the Westerville City School District.