School design helps build Creede community
CREEDE— When the community met with owner representatives through the BEST program to begin the process of designing the new school in Creede, one of the main focuses was to make the building more community friendly than the previous school. Throughout the design phase of the school, the Neenan Company worked closely with local school officials to make sure the building was open, friendly and fit into the scenery around the site of the new school.
Over the past two years, since the school was completed, the community of Creede has undergone several adjustments, getting used to having the school out of city limits. According to new Superintendent Lis Richard, the struggle to keep the community of Creede interested and involved in the school has been a challenge, but one that is being overcome and the way the school has been designed has helped tremendously. “We are using some of the public areas to bring the community back to the school and enhancing other public areas to fit the needs of the community as much as we can,” said Richard.
Senior Project Manager Sergio Ortiz and Architect David Kurtz (with the Neenan Company) commented on the final project stating that after two years, the Creede School is a prime example on how the BEST program positively affects the communities where schools are built and has a direct correlation to the improved learning environment where students have excelled academically. “The library for example was unique to the community of Creede, where the public could securely visit the facility during school hours without risking the safety of the students,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz continued, explaining that most of the time new school projects have to consider public use inside the school for things like sporting events, but that the library at the Creede School is a unique and beautiful addition to the new school. “We had to design it in a way that would allow the public to use the facility while keeping students secure and safe inside the rest of the building and we were able to achieve that,” finished Ortiz.
Richard made the statement that the school is working with the library board that was reformed after nearly 30 years of inactivity to have the library open to the public for more hours during the week and on holidays in order to get the public out to the school more often. In addition to adding more hours, the Mineral County Commissioners recently ordered a sign that will be placed at the end of Cosair Drive, directing traffic to the public library.
Other design specifics that are unique to the school include the open center space that takes up most of the front of the building. The lunch/community room was built with high vaulted ceilings illuminated by natural light and has been used for community events, such as the recent Veterans Day breakfast. Just off to the left of the center space, there is a large classroom equipped with an eastern-facing wall that can be slid to the side to open the room even more. “When designing this space, the school wanted an area where larger classes could be held and provide a way to expand the community space for large events,” said Kurtz.
After visiting with school officials over the last several weeks, Neenan representatives wanted to highlight the benefits of having the new school to the community and encourage them to continue to be involved with the school. “We are very proud of that building. It represents the community of Creede and I am proud of how it turned out,” finished Kurtz.
The school has risen academically in state accreditations in the two years since the building was completed and school officials feel that the new, healthy environment provided by the new school was a major reason for the increase. In 2016, the school moved up to a “distinction level” within the state rankings, which is the highest level of accreditations that a school can receive.
“The design is only one part of connecting the school with the community; utilizing local materials and businesses brought pride from community members and made the school even more part of the community,” said Kurtz.
The school continues to flourish in the community and plans to increase community involvement even more in the future.