A Student's View of School Design

By Shelby Hintze

We students spend at least six hours a day and 180 days a year within the four walls of school buildings, where we learn academic lessons and also socialize with friends. As a result of spending our teenage years inside a school, we share a special perspective on how schools should be designed, and how they should function.

Last year, I was a senior at Washington’s Marysville-Pilchuck High School. During my sophomore year, the Marysville School District began plans to build a new high school. I am in a wheelchair. As I looked at the plans for the new school during a public forum, I realized small, simple changes could make the campus more accessible to those with mobility impairments.

I pointed out a few issues to the designer, who asked that he and I meet to go over the plans more extensively. A few days later, I met with the design team and my ideas and suggestions were welcomed.

For example, I noticed the bathroom mirrors were placed very high on the wall. As a teenage girl, this is a problem, and one the designers might not have realized had I stayed silent. The designers listened to my suggestions and placed the mirrors at a more accessible height. From that experience, I have become very passionate about getting students involved in the design process.

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