Students, faculty, and administrators met
for over a year with architect Michael Leventhal
and designer Ricia Araiza to plan the commons.
The idea for the Commons Project originated when students participated in a
meeting organized by North Coast Rural Challenge Network (NCRCN). The NCRCN
is a collaborative network of rural school districts in northern California
committed to improving education for all students and creating stronger communities.
Formed in 1997 with a grant from the Annenburg Rural Challenge (now the Rural
School Community Trust
), NCRCN's mission is to support four rural school
districts in establishing community-based, and project-based learning that both benefit
the local community and keep the needs of students as the driving force for
all activity. In 1997, a 3-day inservice workshop was held to help teachers
begin planning projects that would actively engage students and community members.
The following summer, community members, students, parents, and teachers gathered
to hear presentations about the first-year projects. During that meeting, an
architect and designer suggested that another potential project could be the
redesign of the commons area on the Mendocino High School's campus. Students
present at the meeting commented that the school's Student Council had already
begun discussing that very same idea. The students were excited to have outside
validation of their ideas, and the architect and designer were pleased that
their suggestion was timely and well received. The combination of community
and student interest opened the door to the Commons Project.
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