The Lakota Middle School campus is co-located in a community park and is a rich example of sustainable design. The school is sited adjacent to a wetland and each learning cluster opens to an outdoor learning area linked with the protected environment. Lakota has the largest array of thin film photovoltaic panels in the Northwest as part of an integrated design strategy to reduce energy consumption. A display screen in the main lobby provides information on energy use and the electricity generated by the 39kW thin-film solar array. Light-sensitive controllers dim electric lights in the learning spaces to take advantage of natural light provided by windows, clerestories, and skylights.
Lakota’s foremost educational goal was to create a personalized and collaborative learning environment for students, within an extremely tight budget. Lakota’s plan reflects the district’s goal of increased common areas in small learning communities for breakout work, lunch service, whole team gathering, and project-based learning. Collaborative teacher planning areas and technology labs are also embedded in each learning community. The two-story Great Room offers a place for students to gather, eat, perform, celebrate, exercise, and relax. Groups can range in size from the entire academy to smaller groups, and the space can be used efficiently to support a variety of learning and teaching pathways.