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Sunnyside High School Case Study

Sunnyside High School

Location: Fresno, CA
Scope: Contemporary, ergonomic furniture for Career Technical Education classroom space


Project Objectives

“The environments we create should promote creativity, collaboration and movement. We wanted to mimic as closely as possible what it would be like for students to be in an advertising agency or marketing firm that has a photography studio.”

Tamela Ryatt, Photography and Marketing Instructor



Benefits + Scope

As the national economy and workforce continue to evolve, there has been a resurgence of CTE curriculum for all high school students. Benefits of this approach include higher graduation rates, increased progression to higher education and higher earnings. Along with this trend has come the need to rethink education spaces by incorporating adaptability to varied teaching and learning styles as well as integration of current technology resources to encourage collaboration and interaction.


The most important aspect of the Sunnyside High School project was to create an environment where students can work both independently and collaboratively, not only with one another, but with industry partners by way of guest presenters and Skype sessions.


Meeting that goal involved restructuring a fine-art, black & white photography classroom and darkroom into a multimedia photography and marketing classroom and studio. Bulky 3’ x 5’ tables that severely hindered movement in the space were replaced by integrated Node desk/chair units from Steelcase that offer a high level of flexibility along with better accommodation of taller students.


Benefits of the Node units:


  • Baskets under the seats for stowing backpacks, keeping them off the floor and other furniture
  • Seating configurations changeable in minutes, from a circle to small group to stadium-style
  • A colorful and inviting environment that excites students and draws them into the classroom


The remodeling also included a new, bar-height table used for department meetings to discuss curriculum and analyze data that gives the feel of stepping away from school into a contemporary meeting place where creativity flows more easily.




CTE students are reportedly the envy of everyone on campus. In fact, other students drop by and ask if they can sit in one of the chairs. Significantly, students are more confident and comfortable while working. And their collaboration seems effortless as they pair up or move across the room with ease.


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