Halcyon School, the behavioral day program for Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District, was more than happy to kick off its nearly two-year, $8.3 million dollar renovation in the summer of 2020. After all, the school’s building was sorely outdated and deteriorated over years of use. It was no longer suitable for its special education programs.
The remodel planned for partial demolition of the existing structure plus 15,000 square feet of new construction. The end goal? A new wing for middle and high school students, along with a new cafeteria, administration space, small group rooms and outdoor recreation areas.
By the time summer 2021 rolled around, the project was ready for furniture and equipment installation. For School Outfitters (Halcyon’s sole furniture partner) the challenge was two-fold: First, we had to provide furnishings that were flexible, versatile, and complementary to the modern design of the new building.
Furnish a new wing for middle and high school students, including a cafeteria, administrative space and small group rooms.
Provide furnishings that meet the students’ unique behavioral needs.
Select furniture that is versatile, modern and complimentary to school colors.
“We wanted to provide students with a modern facility and furnishings,” Halcyon’s Director of Special Education Matt Dudek said. “A lot of our furniture was very outdated.”
Second, we had to find pieces that met the unique behavioral needs of Halcyon’s students.
“Our students are placed with us due to behavioral and emotional challenges,” said Dudek. “All of our students receive special education services...and access to mental health services.”
The students could, at times, be physically rough with furniture and equipment – so it was important our experts' recommended products that were ultra-durable and able to withstand anything from intense fidgeting to kicking or throwing.
“They needed pieces that were sturdy and wouldn’t break easily because these students could be rough with furniture,” School Outfitters’ Project Manager Molly Patrick said. “They also wanted furniture that complimented their school colors.”
The School Outfitters’ team began by researching a variety of furniture options for each space. From there, multiple quotes with 3D room layouts were created and presented to the school’s project stakeholders.
“[School Outfitters] helped us be aware of all our options and how they’d look in our space. It was just so informative to us,” said Dudek. “We would reach out and you would immediately respond and get back to us.”
“The budget was tight, but we were able to present several options and finally get to where we needed to be,” said Patrick. “Everyone was happy.”
In the classrooms and small group rooms, for instance, our experts recommended contemporary soft seating that allowed for easy reconfiguration – like soft floor rockers, modular rocking cylinders and soft nesting benches.
“We were able to customize some of their soft seating fabric to match their school colors,” said Patrick. The result was seating in a modern, multi-colored pattern as well as in a one-of-a-kind pink that instantly brightened the rooms.
In addition, we placed traditional sit-to-stand desks alongside durable stand-up desks with swinging footrest bars. Like rockers and wobble stools, these “active desks” are designed to help students release fidget energy.
“The more stable swinging foot bar desks are great for our students who like to fidget and self-sooth,” said Dudek. “And the variety of rockers and wobblers has been wonderful.”
For group work, our project experts chose solid butcher-block tables with heavy-duty steel frames – tables sure to withstand years of use and abuse.
And in the new cafeteria, we outfitted laminate mobile cafeteria tables with bench seating. The spacious benches seat up to 12 students at a time, and the heavy-duty casters make it a cinch for teachers to rearrange the space as needed.
“The team at School Outfitters was...very responsive to our needs and creative. It never felt like they were selling something, you know how that is, they push you towards one thing or another. I never felt that.” said Dudek.
Prior to installation day, Patrick attended several on-site walkthroughs to confirm the measurements and layouts of the new spaces.
“It was nice having someone guide us through the process,” said Dudek. “We had no clue what we wanted.”
Today, Halcyon School exudes a modern, welcoming feel that didn’t exist prior to the rebuild. The furniture is no longer outdated and immobile – it’s versatile, flexible, and built to withstand the students’ high needs and energy.
As a behavioral school, “they were used to scraping the bottom of the barrel for everything,” said Patrick. “And this was a wonderful opportunity for them to really give their students a place that was welcoming and comfortable to learn.”
Thanks to the variety of soft seating and hydraulic desks, students can wiggle and fidget as they work without being disruptive. The flexible furnishings give students a new sense of ownership over where and how they learn.
“We came into the new building with all of our old, outdated furniture,” said Dudek. “But once we got our new furniture it went from great to awesome.”
More than anything, though, the new furnishings send the message that Halcyon’s students are important and worth the investment, said Dudek.
“The message it sends is about their value, and that they are important. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it sends the message ‘you are worth it’”.