PlanSCAPE Takes on Modern Learning

With the opportunity to build from the ground up, Johnston High School considers what matters most to students and enlists Virco PlanSCAPE to envision learning spaces that are engaging, collaborative, and versatile.

PlanSCAPE Helps Johnston High School Envision a Modern Learning Environment


The city of Johnston, Iowa, has more than doubled its population in recent years thanks to strong businesses and a stable economy in the greater Des Moines metropolitan area. Because of that growth, Johnston School District has added nearly 200 students per year, prompting the construction of an all-new high school on the west side of town.

With the opportunity to build from the ground up, the school district enlisted the help of Virco PlanSCAPE to address some core challenges of today’s learning environments, specifically, how to keep students engaged, encourage collaboration, support a variety of teaching methods, and provide a comfortable and effective space for students to realize their potential.


Stakeholders in Johnston, Iowa, posed a series of questions when they considered their new-from-the-ground-up high school. How will we keep students engaged? How will we support collaborative learning? How will we encourage interaction among faculty? And overall, how will we make the school experience more comfortable and effective for the students themselves?

The answers to these questions formed the goals that would guide the project. To keep students engaged and support collaborative learning, the vision of each classroom was to have its own seating style, so students approached each subject with a fresh perspective. The furniture would be mobile and versatile to support a diverse line-up of learning activities. New professional areas for teachers and educators were created in each wing to encourage interactions amongst faculty. And to meet the needs for a better student experience, hallways were designed to be wider, lockers more easily accessible, and common areas to serve as productive interactive spaces.

With these goals of the school in mind, the PlanSCAPE team developed a visual representation of the new Johnston High School, fully furnished with school spirit and style. Drawing from Virco’s Sage, TEXT and ZUMA product lines, five unique layouts were developed for the core classroom spaces to help keep students engaged and offer collaborative and flexible learning. The furniture can be rearranged to support lecture, collaboration, hands-on practice and more. With teachers’ desks removed from the classroom, mobile presentation stations were added in each classroom to increase classroom space as well as providing a mobile space from which teachers could lecture.


At Johnston High School, each classroom has its own mix of task chairs, lab stools, rockers and 4-leg chairs, as well as desks of varied heights and shapes. Another class now means a different space to sit or stand, collaborate or work independently, keeping learning fresh and helping students remain engaged.

ZUMA Series Student Desks are outfitted with custom hard-plastic tops; Sage Series Lab Stools, Task Chairs, Rockers and 4-Leg Chairs can be spontaneously rearranged to accommodate teaching plans. TEXT Series and PlanSCAPE partner products rounded out the furniture lineup for an overall impression of flexibility and freedom of choice.


Johnston High School cafeteria welcomes diners with a variety of seating options in café-height tables and chairs, mobile stool tables and more. Students can eat with friends, meet for collaboration, or get some work done on their own in a bright and friendly space decked out in school spirit.


Soft seating with integrated power stations help students keep their technology close at hand; a mix of booths, ottomans, armchairs, bar-height tables and stools encourage group interaction – but can also offer a quiet respite for time alone with a book.


Designated Flex Spaces encourage discussion and exchange of ideas amongst students. Spaces feature ZUMA Series Collaborative Desks, soft seating chairs and ottomans outfitted with casters so they can quickly and easily rearrange as activities demand.


The bright and spacious Media Center invites students to explore together through media. Quiet reading spaces with comfy chairs are located throughout the space, as well as soft-seating groups for collaboration, with power stations built right in. Sage Series 4-Leg Chairs with Civitas Frames pair up with desk- and bar-height computer stations and power-ready work tables.