When students return to Evanston Township High School for the new school year that begins Monday, they will see a number of changes to the physical plant that are not quite finished, but officials promise they will like the result when the workmen depart, hopefully by late September.
Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, accompanied by board members Gretchen Livingston and Pat Savage-Williams, along with several members of the administrative staff, gave the press an advance look Wednesday of the changes that are coming.
The most significant, as far as the students are concerned, will be the four new STEM labs devoted to experiments and courses in science, technology, engineering, and math.
The labs are to be furnished in a modular style that will enable tables, chairs, and equipment to be configured in a number of ways to enhance the learning process. The labs were partially financed by a contribution from 1963 ETHS graduate Leonard D. Schaeffer, plus an additional $100,000 in contributions raised by the school’s educational foundation.
Chief financial officer William Stafford notes that the new labs incorporate cost-saving LED lighting.
Beginning this year, all freshmen will be equipped with a Chromebook computer that will stay with them as they take more advanced science courses in their upperclass years.
A 16,000-square-foot Student Success Center, dubbed The Hub, will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., where students can hang out when they’re not in class. The Hub will be outfitted with computer terminals and furnishings that will enable students to study and to hold meetings with other students.
Nearby is the Chrome Zone, which is the operational center for the Chromebooks. It will be staffed by students trained to assist other students, as well as teachers, in the operation of their computers, and to make repairs on that equipment where necessary. Already, some 600 Chromebooks have been distributed in preparation for the new school year.
Superintendent Witherspoon and board members Livingston and Savage-Williams hold an impromptu news conference in the Welcome Center.
Another significant addition to the school that will be appreciated by parents and guests is the Welcome Center near the main entrance on the ground floor.
Witherspoon noted that the sheer size of the school, with 3,120 students, 230 teachers, plus counselors, social workers, psychologists, and administrators, is often daunting to someone entering the school to meet with a teacher or staff member.
The Welcome Center is a spacious waiting room where parents and guests can wait for the person they need to see. Witherspoon and Livingston both stressed that the changes are designed to enhance the school’s “model of continuous improvement.”
“It formalizes our commitment to a culture of equity and excellence,” said Witherspoon.
“We have high expectations for all students,” he said, and added: “If you expect a lot, you’ll get a lot.”
Top: Construction workers apply finishing touches to the new STEM labs.