The first 21st Century Classroom in Santa Cruz County has opened at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos. The building, constructed at a cost of $12.1 million is an impressive 40,500 square feet built in three levels and features 12 classrooms, a computer lab, science lab, several rooms for church programs, and an amphitheater.
The new school building has long been on the campus master plan, but the current vision for the project began to take shape about eight years ago. One of the key leaders in the effort was executive pastor Mark Spurlock, who kindly made himself available for a guided tour of the facility.
It features a wide array of high-tech touches, including LED lighting systems throughout the facility that recognize when people enter a room, and when they leave so the lights can be shut off. What’s more, there are ambient light sensors that adjust the lighting level to be well balanced with natural light from the windows.
The building is climate controlled to keep the indoor temperature at an even 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which has been determined to be the best temperature for students to learn in. What’s more, rooms which are unoccupied can be left cold or hot while rooms which are occupied will have their temperatures maintained at optimal levels.
Each classroom features a long whiteboard, onto which can be projected the output from AppleTVs, Chrome Casts, or a scanner on the teacher’s desk for projecting old-fashioned printed material. Teachers can write all over the white board with old fashioned dry erase markers as well, combining the best of “old school” and new technologies.
The structure was designed by long-time parishioner Rich Ifland of Ifland Engineers (designers of the iconic Santa Cruz Lighthouse). Mr. Ifland studied the latest in school and classroom designs from around the country, but in particular in the Seattle area where they have opened dozens of new schools in the past 20 years.
The structure was built by local firm Bogard Construction, which has built most of the buildings on the Twin Lakes Campus. They broke ground in 2014 and were able to finish the whole project on time and on budget. Funding for the project came completely from donations within the church.
The school serves primarily students from Kindergarten through 5th Grade, with middle-school aged children coming in to use the science and computer labs. With the expanded capacity, the school has more space to accept a few dozen new and lucky students and they are currently accepting applications for enrollment.