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Campus "Modernization" - It's Just Not Worth It

  • January 8, 2024

Orange vest-clad construction workers zip around on electric scooters, fences guard several construction zones, building anticipation for what’s to be built, and… still, it’s not worth it. In an age where being “modern” and tech-savvy is considered a must, American schools are up on the chopping block for redesign and rebrand. It’s necessary to consider what this means for Gahr and why so many students -- and even staff -- are opposed to the ongoing construction. 


As is the consensus among a majority of the student body, Gahr has bigger fish to fry, and it’s important to address (what should be) the priorities. While new technology is installed in classrooms, more basic, long-awaited asks have flown under the radar. The essence of this phenomenon lies in Gahr students’ greatest complaint: the restrooms. 


The prolonged construction has made restroom accessibility and functionality starkly decline. The male students have one single restroom available for use, and the few available to female students have several issues. Hand dryers only work sporadically; some toilets don’t flush. One restroom stall lacks a lock entirely, and must be manually held shut. Though the restrooms are in contract for renovation, they’ve been placed on the back burner and it’s uncertain when they’ll be completed.


In a lesson about efficient spending, economics and US History teacher Mr. Roper asked his econ class to describe what aspects of Gahr they find inefficient. The students’ response was unanimous -- the restrooms need serious work. Though classroom aesthetics and technologies may enhance the educational experience, student necessities are equally significant.


Admittedly, for some groups, the modernization appears promising. “There’s still so much more to come, including a renovated patio area and a brand new black box theater,” says band director Mr. Miller, enthusiastically discussing the newly renovated band room in a tour video. But, though this construction helps specific groups like the performing arts department through large, resonant rooms, most average classroom updates can surely wait. Teachers complain about malfunctioning televisions and their bizarre classroom layouts, and classes are disrupted as teachers attempt to operate their new technology.


Not only do the new additions create inconveniences for teachers; they also trouble students. There hasn’t been a normal, construction-free year since before what many call the “Covid Year”. 


In December 2021, construction began in the gym parking lot, forcing students to park farther away. This construction disrupted students until its completion in mid-February. Class of 2022, with Gahr’s stadium occupied by construction, couldn’t have their graduation ceremony on their own campus and had to relocate to Artesia High. Even the 2023 school registration couldn’t be at Gahr; instead, the procedures took place at a local park.


Of course, it would be unrealistic to suggest that modernization as a whole be abandoned. But, it’s imperative that the district reconsiders and recalibrates its priorities. Schools are meant to serve and benefit students, and disregarding how decisions impact said students (and teachers) provokes a question. Between sleek, all-grey classrooms and the needs of students, which is more important?

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