Director of Special Education Laura Ballard (left, holding check) and special education teacher Tim Converse (right, holding check) are pictured following the official check presentation with Roxana High School students and Shell managers Ed Platt (far right, back row) and Kevin Dyer (center, back row).
ROXANA — Representatives of Shell Oil Products US visited Roxana High School last week to present a grant to the Roxana Schools Foundation to enable the completion of a new Multipurpose Student Center at Roxana High School.
The $50,000 grant is aimed at helping the district meet a community need for a safe, accessible gathering place for students that can be used outside of school hours, while also being available for community groups and service agencies.
Shell has a long history of supporting the Riverbend and a storied history of giving to the Roxana School District and its foundation. It was a donation from Shell in the early 1940s that helped to bridge a gap in the financing needed to complete construction and outfitting of the original school building. While the company has partnered with the school district in many ways over the years since then, this latest grant underscores Shell’s continuing commitment to the community, even though the company no longer operates the Wood River Refinery.
“While we no longer run the refinery, our company is committed to this community, and it’s important to our organization to identify opportunities to demonstrate our continuing commitment to the communities where we have done business,” said Ed Platt, manager of Shell Oil Products US. “When we learned about the plans for the Multipurpose Student Center here at Roxana High School, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Shell places a priority on projects or initiatives within our key focus areas of community, education and environment, and this project spans two of those focus areas — both education and community.”
The district has gradually been transforming the former cafeteria into creative spaces that can be used by students but lacked the funds to implement their broader vision for the repurposed space. The broader vision calls for a center that meets the tremendous need for a safe gathering place for students, particularly outside of school hours; a place where they can utilize their one-to-one technology in a collaborative setting. The goal is for the new center to be open to students before and after school hours with supportive district staff available for tutoring and guidance. It is envisioned as a place to provide access to wireless Internet, presentation boards, and state-of-the-art work tools to eliminate those barriers for students. Community groups and service agencies would also be able to use the space for continuing education and meetings.
“The district should be applauded for the great progress it has made in creating a brand new amenity to support students and the community at large,” Platt said. “And we’re very pleased that this grant from Shell will enable the school district to proceed with purchasing all of the furnishings and fittings necessary to complete the space and make it a haven for students and other community members to enjoy for years to come.”
“The grant will allow us to create a 21st century learning center that facilitates critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation,” Superintendent Debra Kreutztrager said. “Traditional classrooms have physical barriers that will be eliminated within the new space that we are proud to call the Shell Center. This safe conducive environment will facilitate before- and after-school hours as well as serve as a resource center for daily educational programming in which all students can achieve their academic endeavors. The grant takes the ongoing commitment and dedication of the Shell Corporation that created the foundation that the district was built on and extends that commitment into future professional skills that our students will need in order to access higher-paying jobs and create a better future for their own children.”
Kreutztrager envisions that the conversion and renovation of the former cafeteria will enable it to become an integral part of everyday learning activities and will promote student interaction. They plan to achieve this goal by creating multiple zones within the space without changing the architectural footprint. Each zone has a specific and intended activity that drove the furniture and finish selections being funded by Shell.
The first zone, the café area, is immediately adjacent to the recently debuted Café de Shell. The grant will provide bar height seating and round tables aimed at drawing students to linger in the space and enjoy products sold in the café. An extension of the café area is a lounge and art display niche; this zone is central to the space and will provide an area for casual interactions and student art display and appreciation. The furniture selections include a grouping of lounge chairs and occasional tables as well as a bar-height island with stools. The third zone, the collaboration area, includes three multimedia tables with mobile marker boards that can act as dividers to create smaller breakout groups within the overall space. These tables will provide students with access to the latest technology. The fourth space, the classroom area, enables classroom-style learning with tables that can be grouped together or separated to create small groups, similar to a classroom setting. Also, the tables can be moved out of the way and the seating can be used to form a lecture set up in coordination with the next zone. The fifth zone, the classroom lounge, is centered on a projection wall that can be used for viewing video presentations. The space will incorporate softer lounge chairs, easy-to-move cube ottomans and modular carpet tiles. This zone will be used for classroom purposes, faculty development meetings and even community events. The last zone, the quiet study area, is adjacent to the classroom lounge. This space also will incorporate softer lounge seating and carpet tiles for more acoustic control. Additionally, this zone will provide tables for independent study or tutoring.
“Overall, furniture and materials have been thoughtfully selected to outfit a carefully planned space which will create an appealing atmosphere to draw students in to learn and engage, thus preparing them for the next step in their lives,” Kreutztrager said.