Over the past several years, programmatic changes in the Middle School have been implemented in anticipation of the construction of a new building on campus that would be home to ODA students in grades six through eight. These changes were the first step in transitioning students to a more project-based, student-centered learning model. This model teaches students essential skills for their future, and the new building’s spaces were conceived with this in mind.
“The project is about reimagining the Middle School experience for our students,” said Mr. David Mahler, Head of School. “We’ve taken what previously was an underutilized part of campus, and we’re energizing it with the new facility and what will be a totally new campus for our Middle School students. At many schools, the Middle School experience can be overlooked. We wanted to make sure we didn’t forget about an important time in the development of a child and we wanted to invest in making our Middle School program and facilities forward thinking and best-in-class.”
The project will be fully realized with the completion of a state-of-the-art, 13,500-square foot facility opening in Fall of 2020. The new building will create an inviting enclave for learning and exploring exclusively designed for students in grades six through eight. The structure of the building was created for and inspired by students, and incorporates findings from the latest research on how students learn best. Studies show that this active adolescent age group thrives in flexible environments that encourage creativity and communication; therefore classrooms will be filled with movable furniture and walls can be reconfigured to support student learning and collaborative projects.
The ground level of the new facility will center around an open, academic commons where students and faculty can interact informally and classes can collaborate, promoting innovative interdisciplinary learning experiences. A new MakerSpace and Virtual Reality Lab will allow students to ignite their curiosity using cutting-edge technology and tools. The second floor will house studios to support coursework for foreign languages, humanities, multimedia, and visual arts.
“I think [technology is] their world, and what better life preparation can we give them than to have them be comfortable with technology and have them see technology as a tool and not as entertainment,” said Mrs. Julie Bianchi, Head of Middle School. “To take a passion, bring in technology and let these kids fly, I think is extremely important. After the completion of this expansion, ODA will have a Middle School identity unique to itself and unique in the community.”
Electricity for the entire building will be generated by energy collected through solar panels as
ODA continues its commitment to utilizing renewable energy sources. The Lower School campus on Siesta Key already runs on solar energy and the new Middle School building will begin the expansion of solar power on the Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch.
This project was designed in conjunction with long-time ODA partners FleischmanGarcia Architects and The Willis A. Smith Corporation. The team has worked together to establish a distinctive style seen throughout many of the new structures on campus. Electricity for the entire building will be generated by energy collected through solar panels as ODA continues to expand its commitment to utilizing renewable energy sources. The Lower School campus on Siesta Key already produces solar energy from 600 panels and the new Middle School building will begin the expansion of solar power on the Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch.