Carla Olman Peperzak Middle School was designed to inspire community and comfort among students. Flexibility is at the forefront of the building’s design, with additional classrooms unassigned to teachers and free spaces that can become instruction spaces. The school is 145,000 square feet with at targeted student capacity of 825. Students at Peperzak are organized into “neighborhoods,” each occupying a hallway in the school. Students will have their core classes with peers in their neighborhood, not necessarily following the same schedule, but with the same teachers. Each neighborhood is a collection of classrooms with windows facing common areas as “passive supervision” on students in these spaces.

Common areas like hallways and courtyards intended for transitional use have become spaces inviting students to make themselves comfortable. Dozens of soft-cushioned chairs are in the spaces, with natural light streaming in a floor-to-ceiling window offering vast views of ponderosa-lined ridges. Along the walls are counters, where students can set up their laptop and working independently. Architects chose the colors in the school intentionally: walls painted wheat gold, sage green and ponderosa bark orange compliment the landscape of the surrounding area.

Separate from the neighborhood system, students and staff will all be organized into ten “houses,” randomly assigned, so that students and staff are connected in more ways than instruction. At the heart of the school is the learning commons, defined by a large set of stairs for students to commune. Surrounding the commons are classrooms for extracurriculars like art and woodshop, with large windows facing the commons so students can watch their peers at work.

The school proudly honors respected area resident 100-year-old Holocaust survivor Carla Olman Peperzak. Carla has spent her life dedicated to others and has inspired countless people not only in Spokane, but around the world. She was born in Amsterdam in 1923. At the age of 18 she joined the Dutch resistance, helping save Jews, published an underground newspaper and created fake identification and ration cards during WWII. Since moving to Spokane in 2004, she has shared her story with many Spokane Public School students. Her story is inspiring and relevant to the middle school curriculum as well. Her strength, her compassion and her dedication to teaching are just a few of the reasons that the school was named after her.