“Is my teacher going to be nice? How hard will I have to work? Where am I going to sit during lunch?”
This is just the beginning of what runs through a student’s mind on the first day of school, but who’s considering the ways the school building is influencing it inhabitants?
Technology education teacher Paul Ciccone values both design and functionality, but insists that school buildings must be looked at as a “microcosm” where “You always have to anticipate threats to the human condition.” When considering a design for a building, it’s essential to champion safety over beauty, and oftentimes safety and beauty come at an unrealistic price for most schools.
According to a study published by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, “Students with limited classroom daylight were outperformed by those with the most natural light by 20 percent in math and 26 percent on reading tests.”
Without an ample amount of natural light, students tend to feel more incarcerated than inspired, leading to lower test scores and an unhappy student body. Waterford Highschool Principal Mr. Hauser especially likes the north facing windows in his office, stating he’s “…found that nice bright light has been very helpful for my work.”
While Contemporary Issues teacher Roseanne Hardy doesn’t think the creation of ELHS commons has been the best use of space, she says that “The principal was insistent on building the commons.” Thanks to the commons, many students start their day off sun kissed instead of room locked.
Sophomore Saayda Sajid can attest to the benefits of natural light, mentioning that “I feel most relaxed in the library, surrounded by so many books to read with lots of natural light coming from the skylight.”
Even with school renovations, “There’s so many factors and once you consider the factors you add in the element which takes the longest: getting people to agree,” says Mr. Ciccone. The process of adapting to a larger school is difficult for both students and faculty.
Ms. Hardy has noted that “School enlargement has not been negative, but it has lead to a large division in faculty.” This division is not only experienced by the faculty, but also the students.
Senior En-Hua Holtz enjoys spending her free time farther away from the crowds, “I feel the most calm when my friends and I are sitting in the hallway.”
As perfectly stated by Ms. Hardy, the ultimate question when designing is “How do you design a building that can mend as circumstances change to allow for expansion.” -In an ever expanding world, it’s important to value and advocate for the simple things. Large windows, ample desk space, and personalized spaces within the building such as Madame Casey’s floating paper cut-outs give students peace in an environment of such energy.