The Learning Commons A Year Later

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by George Alexandrakis, Staff Reporter
The Learning Commons of the Upper School is likely the busiest area in the building during school hours. Created to benefit the student body and provide more open spaces, the Learning Commons has been a part of the school for just about a year, replacing what had been a separate library and eating space without designated quiet and loud sections to filter noise appropriately. Only current juniors and seniors were in the Upper School when the original split space was a part of the building, and the differences are apparent.
Ms. Metzler, one of Latin’s librarians, was a key voice in designing the new space, “The Learning Commons provides various different kinds of environments versus the one loud place,” she said. Ms. Metzler also talked about the classroom located on the upper deck of the Learning Commons, across from her and Mr. Apo’s desk. They both believe it is more efficient and effective. In the previous space, classes were held in the center of the library and were often disrupted. Mr. Apo explains, “The quiet spaces bring high advantage, and the differentiation in space serves all kinds of learning.”
Students appear to be satisfied with how far the Learning Commons has come in the year it has existed. Junior Sam Szykowny appreciates the addition of the designated quiet space. He says, “I know that if I need to get work done, there is a place I can go and do that,” he says. “In my freshman year, the library was often loud and I would lose focus easily. The partition between grades has disappeared slightly and there are more places where all students are welcome.” 
There are some students who have some complaints about the space and wish there were some components that were different. Junior Alex Laverty said, “The study spaces in the Learning Commons are limited because there’s really no area for the louder group work that is often necessary.” This has proven to be a problem, as there are a few blocks that have more students free than others. There are only six designated conference and quiet rooms for students to study in, and they are often quickly booked. Additionally, sometimes it appears the rooms aren’t being used for homework and just for a social room for groups of students. This can be frustrating when a student is looking for a place to study and work but cannot find one.
It is evident that the Learning Commons is a much more efficient and favored space than the space it replaced. With all its nooks and rooms, it provides a set of different places to serve many purposes. Whether a student wishes to hang out with friends, study quietly, or collaborate with partners on a project from class, the Learning Commons is able to support these needs effectively.