Scholarship entry from:

Alexandria Koulourianos

Lake Zurich High School

School District 95

My name is Alexandria Koulourianos, and the majority of my learning has taken place and continues to take place at Lake Zurich High School. I have gradually discovered how crucial learning environments can be to a student’s success, and there are numerous factors that contribute to one’s ability to learn in said environments.

For starters, I, myself, study primarily in the comfort of my own home. I have found that my level of comfort plays a huge part in how focused I am, the extent of which I am absorbing information, and how overall motivated I am. Although, it is highly important to set certain boundaries when studying somewhere, such as at home, that is outside of the typical academic setting.

As far as studying at home, I would suggest being mindful of the fact that there will more than likely be plenty of opportunity for distraction. This can turn your chosen location into being more harmful than beneficial to one’s learning. Hence, creating some self-limitations, particularly pertaining to what seems to distract an individual the most, can be considered essential when doing this! Something that I do that has been extremely effective is setting devices aside and settling in an area of my house where I am alone and unbothered. I do this because I know that I will feel tempted to check my phone every few minutes if it’s easily accessible, and I know that when in the same room as my family, I cannot resist telling them every single thing, significant or not, that happened that day. So, by instilling these boundaries for myself, I am eliminating the possibility of over-indulging in social media and aimless conversation with those around me. Both of those things can wait!

Another aspect to consider is lighting, for it can have a major impact on how well one engages in their learning. Natural light, specifically, is known to effectively boost mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. This is something I strive to incorporate in my learning environment to the best of my abilities, whether that be by positioning my desk near windows at school or choosing study rooms that allow for sunlight to access. My mood and stress/anxiety levels hugely dictate how well I learn, for negative emotions can be very overpowering and act as a block in my brain; thus, I am not nearly as engaged in my work as I should and could be. Incorporation of natural light also correlates with the effects that architecture can have on learning. It is challenging to discuss the influence that architecture has on education without mention of natural light. It has been said that the more light you let in, the more successful you will be, which has been proven over the course of my academic career.

Furthermore, the architecture of a learning environment may not only encourage imagination and creativity, but it can foster community engagement by bringing students and teachers together in vibrant, organic settings. Lake Zurich High School provides multiple resource centers that also act as productive social settings. These rooms allow students and staff from different disciplines an opportunity to interact when they are not required to reside in the classrooms that are specific to the classes they take/teach. Everyone is able to come together to help one another, work on similar projects, get insight from others on courses that one does not take/will be taking in the future, and socialize with peers that one does not see on a regular basis. Between the flexible and comfortable furniture, space to spread out and meet with study groups, and the option to mingle with various peers, spaces like this are easy for everyone to enjoy.

Architecture can make all the difference for educational institutions, and those within it, when planned and constructed with the goal of inspiring all, and the future generations to come! Ultimately, there is no end to the positive effects that both a preferred location (with the exception of necessary boundaries) and stimulating architecture can have on one’s ability to learn as efficiently and successfully as possible.

Considering the settings I have chosen for myself and my learning, as well as the certain architecture of Lake Zurich High School, I know that I am obtaining all of the information that I am striving to learn to the fullest and will be an all-around knowledgeable and successful student as a result.