Middle School Turns Hogwarts into Reality

Case Studies

The McAuliffe International School

A Denver-based middle school that has the distinction of being named an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The certification is a rigorous one, with a lengthy authorization process designed to promote excellence in learning, and set it apart from many of its peers.

Befitting its high academic standards, the school is housed in an historic Tudor-style building built in 1928. The building itself has some interesting castle-like features. “It’s got gargoyles and really beautiful stonework and brick—it’s just a beautiful building,” says McAuliffe Principal Kurt Dennis.

But, over time, the building was updated and modernized, losing some of its charming original features—including large glass doors and windows that let in natural light. Citing safety concerns, the district covered the glass with stucco, turning the area into putty-colored walls that detracted from the building’s original splendor.

Dennis had read about Ink Monstr Graphic Design and Print, a local graphics firm that was doing interesting things with vinyl installations. He checked out some of the innovative, creative work on the company’s website and saved the contact information.

A theme park spurs inspiration

After returning from a trip to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, Dennis got an idea: “Our school has these castle-like features, and if we used a really great graphic design with vinyl to cover these ugly parts of our building, we could make something really aesthetically pleasing. And it’s also kind of inspirational to the kids and fun and also branded for the school,” he says.

The designers at Ink Monstr worked closely with Dennis, combining textures and images to create the stone work look he and his team had in mind. Using the school’s beautiful architecture and European castles for inspiration, the team designed and created a large format vinyl installation using 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film IJ180C. The installation took just a few hours, Dennis says. He estimates that a similar construction project would have taken a minimum of four weeks, cost much more, and may have disrupted the school’s operations.

The rich ink saturation that the IJ180C film allows transformed the school into something that looked like it belongs at a wizardry school, he says. Dennis also likes the fact that the installation is flexible and can be changed if the school wishes. With a construction project, making changes and updates isn’t always possible. It made an impact in the community and, best of all, the students were delighted.

“It’s fun to see the kids’ reactions when they first saw it when they were coming to school and trying to figure out, “Is that real? What did you do, Mr. Dennis? Trying to figure out how someone could take something that was so bland and ugly and turn it into something so beautiful so quickly. It was a really fun project. I get a lot of comments from neighbors and parents and folks in the community that really like it as well,” he says.

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