By Christopher Samuel (Reporter ‘26)
When you enter the recently redone Center of Innovation and Design, it’s hard to tell that it was recently the Rex Gymnasium. Almost all traces of the old gym are gone from the building. Instead, it has cutting-edge technology for what it now serves as—a place to create. The CID, as students call it, is open to all. It is between the Blackburn Library and the FCC and is home to the Woodworking and Design classes, the Maker Space, and the Robotics club.
The CID is the perfect place to create. It has all sorts of tools, from hammers to power drills, that make designing whatever you want possible. And if those aren’t enough, the Center also has a high-pressure water jet machine and a laser cutter, which can cut stone, and more.
We interviewed some students about the CID, asking them, among other things, to describe the Center in one word. Students gave a variety of answers: “open,” “tools,” “cool.” The answers don’t seem to have a theme, but they sum up the CID. It’s an “open” space where any student can come to turn their imagination into real life, stocked with state-of-the-art “tools”. This, in turn, makes it a “cool” space to create whatever comes to mind.
We also spoke to CJ Keller, a co-director of the CID (along with Mr. Schoifet and Mr. Davis). He gave us the specifics about the CID. When you walk into the CID, you only see one room, but if you take the time to go into the backrooms, you’ll also find a textile studio. CJ greatly enjoys the constant business of the CID. Students with projects and intrepid teachers both use the space, allowing CJ to work with both students and colleagues. He even gains exposure to new things himself. His other two favorite things are the location—the CID is in the center of campus—and the added space. The repurposed Rex Gym is much bigger than the previous venue for the Maker Space, allowing students to work on much bigger projects. Many students also work on smaller projects, which is a new CID trend.
Since the start of the school year, over twenty classes have reserved the CID. Two students that were interviewed talked about their Latin project, in which they had to create a depiction of a Herculean scene. While in the CID, I saw a middle school class that was creating flowers from M&M’s. The students we interviewed said that when they came to the CID, they would have a good time but also learn something. The students testified that the Center is a great place for testing and engineering with all the necessary tools. If ever you find yourself with a great idea but don’t know how to make it come to life, perhaps the CID and its staff can help you find a way to turn your dreams into reality.