Boulder Valley School District

Even small investments can make a big difference for kids

Randy Barber

Renovations at Boulder Prep cultivate pride and help students feel at home

Visitors to Boulder Prep, a charter high school that serves about 100 students, sometimes say the school looks more like a hip co-op office rather than a school, thanks to the bond-funded renovation project there last summer. That’s just fine with headmaster Lili Adeli.

“Since we serve a population of students who have struggled in school, we knew that the learning environment would be a key element to help lift their spirits and make them feel welcome at school,” said Adeli. “Our school was looking run down, and that was affecting student and staff morale.”

Flexible furniture fosters collaboration
Boulder Prep operates out of a comparably small 6,000 square foot space in an office park in Gunbarrel, a northeast Boulder neighborhood. The scope of work and budget for the school’s renovation project was similarly small-sized compared to other schools. However, the work has made a big impact on how students and staff feel and function in the space.

The project included a redesign of the lobby, bright new painted graphics on classroom walls, a restroom remodel, and all new furniture. The furniture is colorful and light-weight, allowing staff and students to move it easily to reconfigure classrooms as needed.

“Our collaborative desk configurations have been fun to experiment with, and it's an ever-changing arrangement. Our stand-up desks and wobble chairs have also been nice options to match students' learning styles and fidget needs,” Adeli explained. “The staff moved out of their offices into mobile desks so we could create versatile meeting rooms for anyone to use.”

Student voice makes a difference
One of the guiding ideas that influences how Innovation funds in each project are invested is “Learning is personalized and learner-led.” Boulder Prep took that idea to heart and infused student voice into the project process from the beginning, not just as an end-goal.

“It was a lot of fun including students in the design and selection process. We held several focus group meetings to ask students about furniture and paint colors,” Adeli explained. “Some of their selections and recommendation were outside the traditional scope for school design, but our Bond team was willing to be flexible with us to make sure the students were able to see their input come to life.”

Bright geometric patterns on classroom walls enliven the learning spaces. Removing a wall and shifting some lockers coupled with soft, relaxed seating, opened up the lobby and created a college-like student commons feel. According to Adeli, even the new finishes in the restrooms have elevated the feel of the space as well as students attitudes about it.

Adeli says she feels a sense of deep gratitude to be in Boulder Valley where the community puts students first and is willing to invest in making sure their learning environments are the very best.

Check out other great renovation projects at


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