In Delano, CA, the city’s motto is, “An International Community Working Together.” And the ethnic distribution of Delano Union School District supports that claim—making diversity and community pride its true strengths. That strength shone bright as the community was also an instrumental partner in the new school’s design. As the corner piece of the neighborhood, the collaborative effort results in a beautifully modern school that supports the district’s mission—a radial campus layout that intentionally leads students through their educational progression from Pre-K through eighth grade, and to the neighboring high school and college.

Working within Pioneer School’s hardship budget, we created much needed flexibility in the classrooms with breakout spaces and technology labs. Each “academic village” is identified with graphics, bold color and signage. An inspirational quote wall introduces students to local historical heroes, and clerestory windows flood the rooms with natural daylight. We placed a strong emphasis on creating outdoor learning environments that foster learning everywhere. We also enhanced the opportunities for area residents and students to learn—while conserving community resources—by integrating a joint-use gymnasium for use by the adjacent high school and surrounding neighborhood. The school now features two libraries—one dedicated to younger students and one that is joint-use and shared by the high school. This transforms the school into an academic community hub and creates a public face for the school that encourages shared community use.