More Than a Facelift: Little Theater receives big renovation

Video Courtesy of Aaron Bredenkamp

More+Than+a+Facelift%3A+Little+Theater+receives+big+renovation

Emily Kutler, Wired Co-Editor-In-Chief

Some may say that the Little Theater went from zero to 100, real quick. From the new technology to the crisp looking Warrior W’s, Westside’s highly used class space has become an improved learning environment for teachers and students.

“I think that space is going to give you experiences that no other high school kid has in Omaha, and I think that is well deserved by you guys,”  Assistant Principal Dr. Aaron Bredenkamp said.

The renovation conversation began in February of 2018 and the renovation process itself took ten weeks during summer vacation. Bredenkamp said that the company working on the renovation has transformed college lecture halls and locker rooms around the nation. According to Bredenkamp, the goal of this was to provide the same motivation that athletes receive from their brands to our students’ educational experience.

“When we looked at the space we really wanted to make that come to life and brand the idea of our education environment to make it unique,” Bredenkamp said. “Make it very Westside so that you know you were a part of Westside and part of the education process here.”

Not only is the space looking better than ever, it’s doing more than ever. Westside is now the first high school in Omaha with a large group Cisco environment. This means that anyone from around the globe can broadcast into the classroom. The plastic plates around the room serve as microphones that can detect voice so that if a student raises their hand and asks a question to a speaker, the camera will focus on that student and pick up on their voice with the microphone. This will also help teachers to record lectures for students who are cross sectioned or absent. Additionally, a 130 inch television up front and new furniture have added a modern edge to the classroom.

“We created it in a manner that made the space a lot more flexible,” Bredenkamp said. “So before you had your standard auditorium seating, which is still there, but if you look down at the ground floor, that’s actually movable furniture so you can have small groups in there.”

The Westside Foundation, which raises money for special projects for the district, helped make this  renovation possible. Terry Hanna, Director of Development at the Westside Foundation, said that this renovation will help allow for engagement opportunities in the classroom. As a one-to-one technology high school, this renovation will also enhance Westside’s technological capabilities.

“Any project that we look at, one question that we always ask is ‘What will victory look like?’,” said Hanna. “When you think of what would victory look like when the little theater is completed, we felt it would be a premier classroom space which rivals local universities in both technology and design for our students, teachers, and community.”

The renovated Little Theater will serve as a home base for upgrades throughout the high school and throughout the district. There will also be an official grand opening in the fall. Both Bredenkamp and Hanna say they hope that this renovation will benefit students, teachers, and the Westside community.