A Tradition of Excellence
Keller High School in its current form was built in 1984, but is tied to the establishment of the district in 1911. For those many decades KHS has been the core of a community that, while growing rapidly, continues to value its history and traditions. Historically, funds have been focused on new facilities, but as growth has stabilized, the community has an opportunity to come back and revitalize the 30-year-old campus. When speaking about a high school, what does it mean to have a Tradition of Excellence? Is it something that can be measured, and if so, by what standards'test scores, scholarship offers, or even state championships? Outcomes are important; but perhaps the real tradition of excellence lies in the on-going pursuits, the enrichment of students' lives, and the vitality of the community around it.
Additions and renovations sounds very drab and it could have been. However, the community, campus, and administration partnered with VLK to try something different.
VLK organized and the campus hosted a charrette process to allow students, parents, staff, and the community to be involved in and influence the redesign of the building that would host the Tradition of Excellence for the next 50 years.
Over the course of four evenings, the architectural vocabulary and style was clarified and determined, the program of spaces was refined, and specific features were discussed. The result was a comprehensive and unified vision for the project.
The program of spaces for the additions included a new band hall, orchestra hall, an administration office, and additional classrooms. But now the purpose for these were more clearly focused and organized: flexible, innovative learning spaces to support today's students, as well as a new main entrance to the campus that not only celebrates KHS, but helps the school community and visitors navigate the campus more easily, ensuring safety and security.
Keller's Tradition of Excellence has centered on academics since its establishment. Continually oriented toward innovation and improvement, new teaching methodologies are frequently implemented and evaluated. The additions and renovations were intentionally designed to support these methods as well as the need for flexible student groups, and the ever-increasing use of personalized technologies in order for students to conduct research. Through the involvement of district and campus administration and VLK's Educational Planner, Dr. Dalane Bouillion, VLK designed unique learning areas including a tiered lecture seating platform for large groups, small group study alcoves along main corridors, and individual study spaces near the library.
An overarching theme of flexibility and adaptability informed every design decision; efforts were made so that ALL spaces became learning environments.
The Tradition also manifests itself in school spirit. KHS is Home of the Indians and its colors of navy with gold trim can be seen on nearly every student every day. To ensure that this spirit was reflected in the redesign, D'Lee Marshall, Director of Marketing at VLK, worked with students, staff, and parents to create a comprehensive branding report, outlining the specific manifestations of school spirit that the KHS community holds dear. Items such as original artwork, senior class gifts and memorials, school colors, mascot, phrases, symbols, and even font were included. This report was delivered to every VLK design team member so that we could incorporate and protect these revered items throughout the design and construction process.
How does this all tie back to the original question? A Tradition of Excellence means a continued commitment to improvement and involvement, a community that speaks of the importance of education and is dedicated to that cause.