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Ripley students show board how school could become ‘building of the future’

March 31, 2016
Westfield Republican

At their regular meeting, Ripley Central School District board of education members got a glimpse of how the school environment might look in the future through the eyes of its students.

Fifth-graders Elias Quintero and Sam Carris, and third-grader Paige Zarpentine, attended the March 17 board meeting with graphics board in hand to discuss how the school might be redesigned to provide a better learning environment.

The three students are members of Ripley's Elite Club, which has been challenged by Ripley superintendent Dr. Lauren Ormsby to devise a plan to transform the school into a "building of the future."

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
Members of Ripley’s Elite Club present their ideas for redesigning the school environment. From left to right are Elias Quintero, Paige Zarpentine, and Sam Carris.

Recently Ripley received a "Smart Schools" grant to finance improved educational technology and improved infrastructure to enhance learning and opportunities for students throughout the State.

However, the grant requires that students have a voice in deciding how the funds are used. While many districts simply put students on committees to fulfill this requirement, Ormsby said she felt that the students should have a more active leadership role in the process.

The six members of the Elite Club toured the school and assessed its needs. After months of research and discussion, these three members came to present some of their recommendations for Phase Two of the Facilities Reconstruction Project.

The three students told the board about four components needed to make up a good learning space Life, Cave, Watering Hole, and Campfire. They explained that "Life" means learning by doing. "Cave" means to have an environment that allows personal learning and introspection. "Watering Hole" refers to an environment in which students can learn with peers. And "Campfire" means to have a space where students learn from an expert, that is, a teacher or presenter.

The students said that the first space to be redesigned would probably be the library, since it has had extensive reconstructive work done to it in Phase One.

In a related matter, the board was treated to a surprise performance by members of the school's Drama Club, who performed the song "Prince Ali" from the club's performance of "Aladdin."

Ormsby noted that the students had been working on the production for more than 10 weeks. "I would just like to say to the teachers and to the performers, what an amazing job," she said.

In other business, board vice president Ted Rickenbrode said that the district does not anticipate any increase in taxes for the coming year. "The budget is pretty well done," he said. "Right now it's at a zero percent tax rate change."

Ormsby noted that the Ripley Free library is moving toward becoming a district library, which would be funded through a tax collected by the school. She said representatives of the library would come to the board soon with a proposal after which the board would have to pass a resolution on the matter.

The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for April 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the elementary library.



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