New and Improved

After a year of construction, the mall is ready to be used by the student body


Kara Simpson

Construction that updates light fixtures, flooring plans and seating reaches completion Aug. 5 in the mall. These additions have been implemented in an effort to create a more comfortable and welcoming environment for the student body.

Morgan Tate

For the past year, the sounds of drilling and heavy construction have been the background noises for students frequenting the mall. The north side of the mall was boarded up as the mezzanine level and student study spaces were added. The mall construction is finally finished, giving the mall a cosmetic update, as well adding new features to the mall for the student body.

One of the major changes is the addition of collaborative seating. The mall originally had only benches along the walls or long cafeteria tables where groups could gather. The renovation gives students more options.

“There are a lot of places for students to gather and collaborate, both on the second-floor level and first-floor level,” principal Lisa Gruman said. “There’s some banquette seating for students to step away from the noise and everything. We also have café tables and chairs.”

 The collaborative area provides space for students to work on a project or study in small groups and are also available during class time.

“Teachers can take an entire class for socratic seminar,” Gruman said. “We have alternate seating out there for that and we will also have a conference room.”

The additional mall space will also bring a new show to life, as Northwest’s Thespian Troupe is planning a spring showcase on the mezzanine level. 

“We’re going to be doing Spaghetti Showcase at the end of March,” junior Rose Cox said.

Director Shawnasea Holst plans to have the underclassmen perform on the new mezzanine level and the upperclassmen will simultaneously serve spaghetti to the audience at tables below.

The new mezzanine ceiling gives the addition of new light fixtures.

“The first thing students are going to notice is that it’s a lot brighter in the mall,” Gruman said. “We have a lot more lights.” 

Updating both the lighting and the sound baffling increased both the functionality and the aesthetic. 

“In between the lights are these large, grey tiles,” Gruman said. “They’re more rectangular and will make things a lot quieter. They’re more subtle and it looks more like a blended art feature.”

As students enter the west doors to the mall and turn left, they’ll find the new school store. The school store will be run by marketing students in Beth Johnstone’s class. 

“ will really help me learn more about my career path,” senior Bryson Mischlich said. “I want to go into fashion marketing and work for Nike or Lululemon.”

 At first, the store will sell one t-shirt style and some school supplies. 

“We have some ideas for our first T-shirt, and then we’ll see where that leads us,” Johnstone said. 

Johnstone plans to also incorporate a thrift store into the new store. 

“I’d like to have a free clothes closet for our students,” Johnstone said. “I’m not really sure how I’m going to do the thrifting part of it, but I’ve got some ideas.”

Johnstone wants to involve student ideas in fleshing out the student store and its merchandising. She also plans on involving teachers and students from other disciplines in the student store operations.

“ teaches digital design, so I want her students to create the artwork ,” Johnstone said. “And then business management is taught by Mr. Nesselhuf. Our Introduction to Business students are actually going to have a beautiful heat press, I’d like for those students to produce the apparel.”

The school store will be open during lunches as soon as the construction is complete. In addition, the updates include a retractable wall that connects the cafeteria and the mall as well as a more accessible art gallery.

“ has the ability to show a variety of two dimensional or three dimensional pieces,” Gruman said. “We’re working toward providing time for to curate exhibits in the art gallery. I look forward to seeing what they decide to do.”

The new mall isn’t the end to the upgrades being made to the building.  Classroom furniture is the next big change. 

“Our next big project is updating furniture to allow our classroom space to function better than the traditional situation,” Gruman said.

She added that students will be represented as furniture decisions are being made. 

“We’ll get feedback from students and will use the opportunity to get different voices in the conversation,” Gruman said.