Virginia high school creates a place for play and a sense of belonging
Virginia-based Heritage High School teamed with ODP Business Solutions® Workspace Interiors to create a dedicated esports environment that also brought school pride to life.
The Governor’s STEM Academy program at Heritage High School expands options for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The program combines academic coursework and research experience with a challenging and focused school environment to prepare students for 21st century careers. As part of this initiative, the district’s director of career and technical education wanted to introduce a new esports program for students in the academy.
With decades of experience partnering with school districts, Workspace Interiors has developed a vast and holistic portfolio of solutions designed for schools across the U.S. To accomplish Heritage High School’s vision, the Workspace Interiors team explored optimal esports programs in detail to create a dedicated environment that infused technology with camaraderie — all while working within the school’s budget.
Through the development of this space, Heritage High School was able to create an environment that gave students access to leading-edge technology while also bringing school spirit to life.
In 2021, the Workspace Interiors team began working with Heritage High School to interpret its vision for an innovative yet inviting esports environment.
“Governor’s STEM Academy students have the opportunity to learn about game design and apply those skills in the esports lab,” said Lenise Cowling, the Governor’s STEM Academy program administrator. “This lab shows the esports team that their skills and competition are valued by our school and helps students take their skill development in competition seriously.”
Heritage High School initially identified three potential spaces within its buildings that could be converted into a dedicated space for esports before finally landing on the room that would become home to the state-of-the-art esports lab.
Amy Bowes, Sr. Key Account Manager for ODP Business Solutions, stated, “After visiting and measuring the space at Heritage, our Workspace Interiors team offered several design and layout recommendations for the room, incorporating the Heritage High School color scheme into all selections.”
The discussion and planning during the next 18 months included consultations and collaboration between the ODP Business Solutions® team and Lenovo, which made recommendations for best equipping the esports team.
Regular meetings were held between Heritage High School and the ODP Business Solutions™ team throughout the entire process to verify that nothing had changed since previous meetings (and pivoting if it did) and the team was adhering to the vision for the space as outlined by the school and district.
Once the final space and concept were selected and plans were put in place, the first thing that needed to be addressed was enabling the room’s electricity to power all of the computers that would soon fill the room. Workspace Interiors coordinated with Heritage High School’s electrician to implement additional power outlets that would accommodate the new furniture layout — providing easy access at each computer station.
Next, it was time to transform the room from the ground up, literally.
ODP Business Solutions leveraged its relationship with Flagship Carpets to create a custom rug for the space that proudly displayed the Heritage High School logo in the center — complete with school colors. This was situated in the room’s center over the existing tile floor.
A concern over potential noise levels within the room was brought to everyone’s attention — and quickly addressed. Special acoustic tiles were installed over each of the gamers’ desks to absorb sound that would normally reverberate off the room’s cinder block walls and tile. This not only helps everyone in the room hear what’s going on in the game but, more importantly, also helps foster clear communication with one another.
The esports lab is more than a place for play. It’s also a space for learning, collaboration, team building, school pride, and communication — and technology leads the way.
The ODP Business Solutions® team collaborated with Lenovo to equip the room with the latest monitors, gaming PCs, and consoles, but the innovation didn’t stop there. Lenovo also recommended installing a whiteboard in the space so that the esports facilitator and students could write out plays, keep track of scores, and maintain ongoing communication. ODP Business Solutions teamed with VividBoard to create a glass whiteboard with the Heritage High School logo featured behind the glass.
An 80″ flat-screen monitor was also installed on one of the lab’s walls, so students and faculty alike could drop in and spectate the games being played by the esports team. This proved to be a great way to welcome people into the lab, cheer on the team, and provide a space that makes everyone feel included — even if they’re not playing.
The esports lab was outfitted with commercial furniture selections that included top names like HON® and Kimball®. From the chairs and tables making up the gamer stations to the soft seating and credenzas included in the lounge to the desk for the esports facilitator, Workspace Interiors provided furniture solutions with comfort and school spirit in mind.
Workspace Interiors focused on incorporating the Heritage High School color scheme into all selections to help manifest school spirit from corner to corner. While selecting furniture from some of the top brands, the school was able to receive discounted pricing by leveraging the America Saves cooperative contract.
In fact, Workspace Interiors offered furniture solutions that not only maintained the high-end design intent but also remained within the agreed-to budget.
With the space completed, the Heritage High School esports team competed in several games and ranked respectably in a region that includes about 200 schools along the East Coast. But that’s just the beginning.
“The esports lounge — and esports program in general — gives students the chance to explore a potential academic and career path that is directly tied to their love of video games and competitive gaming,” said team coach Mario Castro. “The program cultivates leadership skills, critical thinking skills, and fosters a sense of kinship and camaraderie — plus it exposes students who may not know that their love of gaming and technology has a place in the classroom, such as in the cybersecurity or game development and programming pathways.”
The new esports lab offers a hub where students can connect, work together, and problem-solve while demonstrating school spirit — whether they’re playing or observing.
“Students on the esports team are part of our Heritage High athletic community, and they are already showing pride in being provided this space and this equipment so they can represent us well in the sport,” said Cowling.
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