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District 93 to have ‘learning stairs’ at new middle school


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What the learning stairs will look like at Black Canyon Middle School | Courtesy Bonneville Joint School District 93

IDAHO FALLS — For the first time in Bonneville Joint School District 93 history, “learning stairs” will be introduced to students and teachers.

The new Black Canyon Middle School will be home to an architectural design that Director of Facilities John Pymm said he only knows of two elementary schools in Idaho that have them. They are in Twin Falls.

“As we visited with the schools down there, the kids use them a lot to gather between classes and teachers bring groups in so they can do larger group presentations,” Pymm says.

Instead of having regular-sized stairs connecting the first and second levels throughout the building, Pymm says there will be a set of wider stairs, called learning stairs.

At the top of the stairs, students and teachers will have the option to turn one way and go into the media center or go down the other hallway into classrooms. The stairs lead down to a commons area.

“They’re wide so that it actually makes seating for a significant group of people,” Pymm says.

RELATED | Ground broken on new District 93 middle school

Courtesy Bonneville Joint School District 93

According to an article on spaces4learning, traditionally, grand staircases were the focal point of many buildings. But over time, stairways have been put in corners in some buildings to make room for elevators.

“And while it’s not a novel idea, as the history of stairs dates back to the first human structures, it (learning stairs) is on the rise as a concept that promotes social interaction and connection, as well as physical activity and wellness in schools across the country,” the article reads.

It also says that learning stairs are being designed as the heart of student-centered spaces in kindergarten through high school.

Learning stairs provide an informal and a formal area for gathering, teaching, transporting, socializing and performing, according to the article.

Pymm said electrical outlets will be built into the stairs for charging devices.

“By incorporating the principles of active design, these successful public spaces are shaping countless opportunities where students, faculty and the greater community can gather and thrive,” the article says.

Black Canyon Middle School is expected to be finished in time for the 2021-2022 school year. Pymm said everything is moving along according to schedule.

“We’re really, really excited,” Pymm says. “We feel like the design is very conducive to the things we’re trying to do as a district to create a collaborative learning environment.”

Black Canyon Middle School being built. | Brittni Johnson,