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Meet your new Perham high school

The Commons of the new high school will provide a place for students to gather, study and relax. (Brian Hansel / Focus)

After many months of design planning and construction, the new Perham High School is gearing up to open its doors to the public for the first time. Administration and staff members of Perham-Dent School District are eager to introduce community members, students, and visitors to this new facility and all of the ways it will take the district well into the next century and beyond. This is the first in a series of articles detailing different spaces and features of the new high school.

The process began with researching design concepts and plans in order to make the most use of spaces within the building. There are three themes that were at the forefront of the planning process: Flexibility, Efficiency and Adaptability.

These themes are found in schools being built around the state, and each one plays a vital role in how the facility is used throughout the school day and into the evenings. Buildings that are flexible, efficient, and adaptable create an atmosphere where students of all learning abilities can thrive. Throughout the series of articles, we'll give you an inside peek into how these themes were taken into consideration in different spaces throughout the building. And we'll start with the Commons area.

Many schools, including the district's own Prairie Wind Middle School, are designed around a center hub that organizes the space. It is essentially a large lunchroom space that acts as a hallway and gathering place connecting the various corridors of the building. The Commons also creates separation between athletics and academics.

Large gathering spaces, like the Commons, encourage collaboration and socialization. Interpersonal skills can be just as valuable as academic skills, so these common spaces encourage students to practice these skills as often as possible. Therefore, the design and furnishing of the Commons is inviting and comfortable. Placement of couches, tables, and chairs facilitate informal conversation among small groups, but can be adapted to suit larger meetings, assemblies, or overflow space from school or community events.

With tall ceilings and expansive windows, the Commons is flooded with natural light. The natural light continues to flow through the space to feed light into other areas including the art room, kitchen, and gymnasium. Natural lighting throughout any sort of space increases productivity and efficiency, while also being more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly.

The hustle and bustle in this high traffic area called for flooring that is easy to maintain and clean. Therefore, the concrete flooring throughout the space was simply polished. Polished concrete is also harder to damage making it an excellent long-term option for the constant movement the Commons will experience.

To learn more about the building process, visit our website at www.perhamschools.org.

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