Barry Giller knew that Charlotte Christian School’s new media center had achieved success when he overhead a middle school soccer player yelling to his friend as the student ran across the field.
“Dude, did you see the media center?” Giller, Charlotte Christian head of school, recalls the student calling out.
“(In) my first five years (at Charlotte Christian), no one has said that,” Giller told supporters, students and faculty at the official opening of the Bryte Little Efird media center on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
Over the summer, Charlotte Christian transformed the first floor of its administration building into a state-of-the-art media center that is a far cry from the libraries lined with books and study carrels of their parents’ generation.
“Our goal was to have a space that was vibrant, inviting and convenient for the kids,” Giller said. “They’re used to studying at places like Panera Bread and Starbucks, so we wanted something similar.”
The new media center, which is for Charlotte Christian’s middle and upper school students, is open and fluid.
Walls were knocked out of the 6,100-square-foot space to bring in more natural light, and designers Mari-Ann Williams and Ariel Cohn of LS3P Associates Ltd. created spaces with movable furniture, outlets to plug in technology and seating arrangements to encourage collaborative work.
“We took a library and kind of shook it up,” said David Bellamy, K-12 design leader for LS3P Associates.
The new center has wall monitors that can connect to students’ computers, a charging bar and walls with special paint where students can write with markers.
The media center’s “digital hearth” features a large wall monitor in front of a U-shaped couch, where teachers can hold classes.
It has a table of computers and a windowed room for meetings and group work. “Buoys,” or weeble-wobble stools that lean and swivel, are scattered throughout seating areas.
Students are encouraged to work there during study periods, and a faculty member oversees the space until 6 p.m. on school days. The school administration wanted the design that would turn the space into a student hangout.
“I was kind of shocked at what it had become,” said Taylor Burch, a Charlotte Christian senior and student body president. “It’s so open and new and fresh compared to the last media center.”
When Burch visited the media center on Tuesday, Aug. 25, it was “packed,” he said.
Media specialist Jessica Ramsey said the center seems to have a low hum as students quietly talk, similar to the atmosphere in a coffee shop.
“It’s not loud, but they keep that community chatter,” she said.
She has heard students say the new media center makes them want to do homework, and others are bringing their friends to see it. The center provides a convenient place for students to work on group projects, connect to the Internet for class assignments and access tools for research.
“What’s interesting is they feel comfortable here,” Ramsey said. “It’s familiar to them, even though it’s new.”
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte Christian School’s Board of Trustees named the school’s new upper and middle school library in honor of CFO Terry Efird’s mother, Bryte Little Efird, in recognition of Terry Efird’s 12 years of “dedicated and financial leadership of the school.”
Terry Efird joined Charlotte Christian School in 2003 as the director of finance and operations. His son Patrick graduated from the school in 2003.
“Like I am, she would have been greatly humbled and as we used to say in the country when embarrassed, she would have wanted to crawl into her hat,” Terry Efird said at the media center’s dedication.
Bryte Little Efird was born in 1924 and was a graduate of Stanfield High School and Catawba College. She taught business subjects in North Carolina public schools, including West Stanley High School, for 30 years.
He said his mother, who died in 2013 at age 89, would have “loved everything about this media center.”