Classroom Remodel Reveals Fun in the Ceiling

June 15, 2020

An elementary school computer lab was transformed from an outdated room to a 21st-century learning space on a tight budget, by a creative application of paint, carpet and ceiling tiles.

Oak Forest, Ill.

Two aspects of school remodeling are generally predictable: the schedule is short and the budget is tight. Fortunately, school staff and teachers can bring other assets to the process: resourcefulness and creativity that make the mission possible. At Morton Gingerwood Elementary School in the Chicago suburbs, they were able to bring outdated rooms back to life and make exciting learning spaces by the clever application of carpeting, paint and intriguing ceilings.


The computer lab for first and second graders at had old computers and even older layout and finishes. David Termunde, M.Ed., the district’s Chief Technology Officer, replaced the computers, but felt more was needed to support the learning experience. “We had a new principal,” he recounts, “and I said, ‘What can we do to make this room 21st century?’”

On the last day of school, maintenance gutted the room. Next, they created a colorful paint scheme, saving money by pairing the job with other paint work in the school.


After removing the worn-out white mineral fiber ceiling panels, Termunde decided an alternative type of ceiling would help transform the room. He selected Ceilume thermo-formed acoustic panels based on his experience using them in offices and server rooms at his former business. The lightweight panels fit conventional 2-ft. × 2-ft. and 2-ft. × 4-ft. suspended ceiling grids and are available in a wide variety of finishes and dimensional styles.

Termunde selected Southland, a ribbed pattern with a contemporary look. He used a frosted, semi-transparent type that hides the ducts and pipes above the lab’s ceiling but transmits light from the inexpensive, utilitarian 8-ft. LED strips he installed above the ceiling.

First and second graders are way down near to the floor, so when they look up, it looks really cool.” He also installed opaque white panels in another contemporary pattern, Roman Circles, on the soffit along the room’s orange-painted wall, making the soffit look like some high-tech device.


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