The oddity of the beautiful school

The workshop where I spent the day here in Janesville was held in the John Kennedy Elementary School, a 10-year-old building with overwhelmingly successful design: colours, materials, lines, flexibility and light.  Linoleum hallways have pieces cut into them representing the trivium and the quadrivium; the high metal ceiling in the performing arts area is painted light blue with white “clouds” supporting the lights; heavy duty wooden cubbies on wheels line corridors but can be shifted away if the full width of one hall or another is required.

It occurs to me that I haven’t seen such a well designed–and well maintained–public school building in perhaps my entire life.  No scars on the paint from door handles that have banged for lack of doorstopper, cheery colourful tiles in the washrooms that are clean, clean, clean.  And, to boot, the presentations could take advantage of a stellar sound system, just fine projector and screen.  Even the lunchtime caterer arrived silently set up and returned to take down on cat’s paws.

The presentations rolled, too, like water off a healthy duck’s back. Fullcast’s Dan Bostick, with two teen actors, engaged; Michele Cobb wore her APA hat and showed emerging technology with all the grace of a chef making omelettes; CCBC’s Merri Lindgren talked books I already know and made them sound enticing all over again.

Was it the setting that kept things humming without the almost-always overtalker who throws off the schedule?

Nearly a dozen local teens came out on a Saturday morning to talk about their listening preferences–without a snarky one in the bunch (but plenty with enough insouciance to assure us that they weren’t a Stepford crop). No one complained about the sandwiches or the cookies; people said please and thank you and asked real questions.

In short the day fit the building, a kind of unanticipated idyll.


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