The East Aurora facility will have a music studio and teaching kitchen

The East Aurora School District recently opened an estimated $12 million Student Education Center that will offer a kitchen to teach cooking skills, a sports lounge for video games, television production and entertainment areas. music recording and more.

The Resilience Education Center is being built on the site of a former district administration office building at 417 Fifth St. on the east side of town.

The two-story, 30,000-square-foot facility is designed to provide new learning opportunities for East Aurora students and at the same time provide emotional and social support through programs that appeal to young people, officials said. district officials.

The education center, designed by district architectural firm Cordogan Clark, will be primarily for high school students to use during after-school hours. The plan is to have the facility ready to open in time for the 2023-2024 school year.

Architectural renderings show an open space for performances and presentations, a full-service kitchen studio for culinary arts education, a sports lounge for video games and e-sports, and separate art studios, dance, television production and music recording.

East Aurora School District Superintendent Jennifer Norrell said the concept for the education center came to her mind in the summer of 2021 after the pandemic had been going on for nearly a year and a half.

“We had to think differently to really impact the emotional and social well-being of our children,” Norrell said.

Approximately 74% of East Aurora students have chosen remote learning for the entire 2020-21 academic year. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the district opened schools offering a hybrid program that ended up serving 26 percent of students.

“We didn’t have any interactions, but we were very in tune with the research,” Norrell said of the pandemic’s impact on students.

“We started to have access to research and simultaneously we were aware of research that looked not only at the impact of the pandemic, but also at the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on ethnic and minority groups and socio-economic groups. -economic,” Norrell said.

“We recognized that our children needed more resilience because they were living alongside the pandemic with everything that was going on with race relations in the country,” Norrell said.

The district administration had an “increased sense of awareness,” the superintendent said, of the issues facing the students.

“As we were preparing to open our doors in August for the 2021-2022 school year, we were heeding all the research and warnings that our children would not return to class in the same way,” she said. declared.

The main purpose of the new education center was initially to provide counseling services to students, but this concept has evolved to offer much more to young people, according to officials.

“We started looking at what social welfare is. For us, it’s about asking the kids to put down their cell phones,” Norrell said. “For 10 years, we have known that cell phone use among young people is a problem. But COVID has greatly exacerbated this problem.

On the one hand, the district wanted kids to stay away from electronic devices and yet, for a year and a half, students found themselves with electronic devices as the only form of communication during remote learning, he said. she declared.

“We envision the Resilience Education Center to serve all ages. However, during the week, we want the facility to have a collegial atmosphere,” she said. “Students can decide to establish a record track and later have an appointment to see a health expert. It’s about letting kids know that it’s about living well.

Linda Girardi is a freelance journalist for The Beacon-News.