Every Classroom Has Its Own Story

Classrooms at Centennial High School are filled with students’ works and decorations including poems, posters, drawings, and much more. Decorations in each class vary depending on the teacher and the subject being taught. Some choose to display student works which are shown to improve recollection of material from previous courses. On the off hand, other staff members have decided to adorn their classrooms with personal interests such as their favorite books and quotes in order to build a stronger connection with their students, while also providing a sense of community and inspiration. 

 Kristin Lavender, an English teacher at Centennial, has a unique space which serves as both the newspaper and yearbook classroom highlighted with titles that have been decorated by previous students.

From English to Journalism to Yearbook, the room is occupied by hard working students every day. “This is not really my classroom, it belongs to the school. It has a 35 year history of students using the walls to recognize the Wingspan editor in chief. The ceiling tiles are for the yearbook advisor… I think there is an energy to the room, a lot to look at, a lot to do. It feeds what we do here, from publication to journalism,” explained Lavender.

Each students’ tile is a memory that is left behind to build the atmosphere of the room. The beautifully decorated room shows the great effort students put in throughout the years.





Russell VanWestervelt, another English teacher at Centennial, decorates his room with books and posters all around the walls that bring coziness.

“My immediate thought was how can I make this room my student’s space?” proclaimed VanWestervelt when asked about his classroom decorations.

VanWestervelt’s classroom is a place in which he wants everyone to feel welcomed and comfortable. On one wall of his classroom, he has a bulletin board that stretches across the entire wall titled, “What type of writer are you?” The board is embellished with fairy lights and displays different categories of writers. Each variety of writers is a way for students to understand their writing strengths and weaknesses. 

In several areas of the room, he has shelves filled with all sorts of books. The different titles have come from himself, his brother, from students, and others in his life. VanWestervelt continued, “The books in this room are a combination of books I’ve accumulated over the years and there are books that were part of my brother’s library… I just this year created a student library where students can borrow books in my classroom as well.”

Mark Hanssen, an art teacher at Centennial, has student-made art plastered all across his room which makes for a very colorful and interesting environment to be in–perfect for an artist.

“The purpose is really to help motivate students to want to make more artwork, they see something really cool that they like and that makes them want to make more art, and also lets them see what they can actually do,” explained Hanssen.

Through his decorations, Hanssen drives his students to become better artists. When a student sees artwork they really enjoy, it inspires them to keep learning and make more art in order to understand their potential as an artist since the work around them is made by students too. Another reason as to why he decorates his room using art is to make a creative workspace that artists can thrive in.

Hanssen mentioned, “Studios from college to professional and my friends that are working artists, their spaces are full of artwork, it’s just something we like as artists.”

Decorations are not only for the sake of aesthetics, they are crucial in creating the atmosphere of a safe environment for students in class. 

“Each student that enters this room leaves their soul,” Lavender concluded.


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