Creation Nation up and running at Leechburg Area School District |
Valley News Dispatch

Creation Nation up and running at Leechburg Area School District

A lot of high-tech companies are going to wish they had creative space as advanced as what Leechburg Area School District students now enjoy.

A new, 7,000-square-foot, STEM-heavy educational environment, dubbed Creation Nation, is up and running in the Baker Building area on campus.

Creation Nation welcomes students from grades 7-12 and was made possible by a $25,000 Pennsylvania Department of Education state grant. The total cost for the project was almost $39,000, with the district picking up the rest.

Renovations began last June and took about four months, bringing the district closer to its goal of providing a long-term, energy efficient learning environment for the students and community in the 21st century education arena, said Leechburg Superintendent Tiffany Nix.

A board room, two art rooms and a computer-assisted design lab previously occupied what is now Creation Nation.

Board meetings are now held in the school auditorium.

Created and designed by Inventionland, located in RIDC Park in O’hara Township, Creation Nation supports collaboration and educational connections in a stimulating and welcoming community Nix said.

“The students reaction to the spaces were priceless,” Nix said.

Renovations included the installation of labs, classrooms, more than 30 new computers and upgraded electrical, plumbing, mechanical and safety systems. The space is divided into three distinct learning centers: storytelling, inventing and making.

New furniture, illuminated white boards, colorful murals provided by Inventionland, large windows providing natural light and an open floor plan feel less like a traditional school and more like a silicon valley start-up corporate office.

“Creation Nation offers an avenue for students and teachers to explore endless possibilities for enrichment activities in all academic areas including the arts,” Nix said.

Educators Shayle Prorok, Dan Stitt and Tanya Sherbondy oversee Creation Nation and “almost never leave” joked Prorok.

Creation Nation classes offered include art connections and advanced art, multi-media design, video production, robotics, Inventionland and wood shop/technology education.

A recording area complete with a green screen and state-of-the art equipment provides video club students a studio setting for taping and broadcasting the daily school announcements.

“Students come up here and they like the environment,” said art teacher Shayle Prorok. “It’s so new and state of the art and it gets the creative juices flowing — it’s not a desk setting and the kids love that.”

Sophomore Arwen Rak said she loves what she described as a huge space.

“There is more space for art and it’s a lot better,” Rak said.

The Inventionland Innovation Course offered introduces students to design, innovation and entrepreneurial skills through hands-on learning activities. Upon completion of the semester-long course, students have the opportunity to compete in an innovation contest, where they pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts.

Nix said the potential for Creation Nation as a collaborative connection is bright.

“We will run summer camps, STEM fairs and host other schools for academic competitions in the new creative areas that allow the opportunity for collaboration, creative thinking, communication and problem solving,” Nix said.

“This is just the beginning of what is yet to come for our students,” Nix said.

Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.

Leechburg Area High School students work in collaborative small groups at Creation Nation.
Leechburg Area High School video production teacher Tanya Sherbondy brainstorms ideas for an upcoming video contest with students in the district’s new Creation Nation area on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.
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