It has been said many times that it is not the school building that is most important factor in the pursuit of academic achievement, but what goes on inside the building that is paramount. In a general sense, there is some truth to that statement; however, when the instructional model has been matched with a facility designed to enhance that model, student achievement can be maximized. Lake Oconee Academy is taking such an approach.
For the first three years of operation, Lake Oconee Academy was hosted at Lakeside Church on Lake Oconee Parkway. We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Lakeside Church for opening their facilities to us, and for graciously providing a wonderful environment for student learning.
LOA moved into its new 60,000 square-foot elementary school facility in time for the 2010-2011 academic year. During the early years, the facility will accommodate elementary and middle school students. As the school population grows, the campus will transition back to a PreK-4 through 5th grade environment and become the permanent home of the LOA Elementary School.
Our design goals for the new facility were to create a functional, sustainable, aesthetically pleasing environment promoting intellectual and social exchange. To accomplish these goals, site design research was undertaken. Two studies, one from the University of Georgia and the other from the University of Wisconsin, indicated that the campus design was best suited for students of the 21st century. The new “millennium” students, as this generation is called, tend to find comfort and achieve at a higher rate when the facilities promote learning “neighborhoods.”
Features that contribute to the “neighborhoods” as learning centers are:
• Open spaces that unify neighborhoods and the larger campus,
• Learning environments that are deemed as important as the classrooms that frame them,
• Spaces promoting impromptu student clusters – something the millennium generation takes for granted,
• The notion that the public square is created in multiple locations throughout campus,
• Environments throughout that promote the quality of learning, and
• The campus design and program gives us the opportunity to increase the experiential component of learning, a fundamental component to Core Knowledge, and the acquisition of all knowledge.
The buildings consist of 26 classrooms, a media center, specials rooms (art, science lab, music, language, gifted education, and media center), as well as administrative offices and a parent’s room.
Our state-of-art technology program offers Smart Boards in each classroom for instruction. These touch sensitive boards allow all students to interact with any academic materials the instructor wishes to project from his/her computer. They also enable the instructor to show video projections with real-time computer downloading. Each classroom has its own bank of computers for in-class use, and each building will have access to a mobile cart of laptop computers when expanded needs arise. The entire campus will have wireless access inside and outside the buildings, allowing instruction and research to take place wherever and whenever the need may arise.
Our Media Center will offer the same technological advantages and wireless capabilities as the classrooms. The circulation desk will be completely automated. Library holdings are expanded to keep materials at least three grade levels above the present grade structure to assure students have access to challenging materials. LOA has developed a reading section for adults that focuses on parenting skills, teaching methods, casual reading, and other titles, including best-selling novels, that may be of interest to our parents and community members. It is our desire to have our parents and the surrounding community view our Media Center as an additional resource to meet some of their reading needs.
ATHELTICS AND HEALTH
Athletic facilities have not been overlooked. Titan Auditorium is equipped with a high school size basketball court for physical education and team competition. The court also can be used for volleyball. The facility has a smaller activity area designed for Pre-K4 through grade one use. Between these two areas are dining facilities and a food preparation area. At the end of the building, there is a stage fully equipped with a sound and lighting system for student performances and large group meetings.