Students give vision for efficient Oberlin PK-12 school

By Evan Goodenow -





An on-again, off-again proposal for a new Oberlin prekindergarten through 12th grade school has been the subject of extensive discussion over the last several years, but students haven’t had much say.

That changed recently when three high school students gave their vision to board of education members about what they’d like to see in the school if it is built.

Officials preferred building a $35.5 million building to replace the district’s aging schools, saying it would save money in the long term. But under pressure in June from residents concerned about the cost of the new school, they dropped putting the proposal on the November ballot.

If the school is built, high school seniors Tam Cadenhead, Dorian Levine, and Journey Toole want it to be energy efficient.

In developing a Nov. 15 presentation, the students analyzed recent architectural proposals for the school, which would be located where Oberlin High School is at 281 North Pleasant St. They also studied Oberlin College’s Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, a solar-powered building the college touts as a national model for green building technology.

The OHS students liked the idea taking advantage of the sun. They support plans that include a solar panel array.

“It pays for itself over time,” Levine said. “It all adds up.”

Other energy efficiency aspects would include interactive glass displays of electricity and water usage to encourage conservation.

“It would change how students look at the building,” Cadenhead said. “It would really allow students to be aware of their intake and what’s coming out of the school.”

The campus would include three connected buildings for elementary, middle, and high school students. They would share an auditorium and media and music centers to save money.

The school would be aligned with the path of the sun with south side tinted windows. Trees would be planted in front of the building to save on heating and cooling costs. A north side berm would help retain heat in the winter and could double as a garden in the spring and summer to grow food for the school.

The students detailed how LED lighting and electronic sensors and radiant floor heating would also reduce long-term costs. A pond would be used for water filtration and biodiversity experiments.

Removable ceilings and floors would more easily allow for potential allow for changing classroom sizes. The basement would house science labs and freezers for frozen foods to take advantage of a cooler temperatures.

If a new school is built, Cadenhead, Levine, and Toole will have long graduated before it opens. Nonetheless, they said the research they did was worthwhile and hope it will provide greater perspective for board members.

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.




By Evan Goodenow