Prairie High School has been going through changes for the last three years. It’s a long process that is predicted to come to an end at the beginning of the next school year. A new section of the building has been opened, including the new main entrance, learning stairs, a booth area, the new and improved school store, and more classrooms, plus an open area and new hallways. Many people have commented on how the new space feels like a college commons area. Teachers, students, and even our principal were able to give their insight on the new improvements at Prairie.
The learning stairs are one of the new additions in the remodeled area. They are made completely out of wood with 4 outlets at different ends of the steps. Students thus far have used them for sitting during free periods and while waiting for school to start at the beginning of the day. When asked what the intended purpose of the learning stairs was, one of our faculty members answered saying, “To keep the kids in a supervised area during passing or free periods.” Another said, “To give students a place to go to when they arrive at school, while they are waiting for the bell to ring to go to class.” They confirmed that the students have been using them for this purpose. Most students appear to be positive and enthusiastic about the new area. They are taking advantage of their environment and using it as a place to get more studying done. This is exactly what teachers want to see and exactly what students are doing.
To help students understand the new changes and policies that are taking place, e-mails have been sent out, so staff members suggest that all students check their emails to be updated about any upcoming changes. The faculty also receive e-mails, and they have meetings to attend where they go over planning and preparation for the classes ahead. When interviewed about how the learning stairs and the overall new area are affecting attendance, students and teachers commented that it hasn’t had a significant effect on attendance. Our faculty members have said that the amount of stragglers in the hallways has lowered. One person stated that with the new space it is easier for students to get around.
While it is true that there is a lot of space that has been opened up, there is a spot that has become a bit more crowded. Named after the Bermuda triangle at the opposing end of the hallway, the Bermuda X is a crowded area that is between the newly opened hallway of classes and the math and science hallway. One of the few accessible bathrooms is right at the four-way, causing even more difficulty in moving through the hallway. The two closest classrooms to the Bermuda X are Mrs.Clark’s and Mr. Gass’ class. Mrs.Clark expressed concerns about safety issues in the Bermuda X, saying, “Since it is so crowded students may trip and it may cause more fights. So far, there haven’t been any apparent concerns, but there could be a problem when it comes to fire hazards. Fortunately, there are different routes in that case so that students aren’t all going in the same direction.” Mr. Gass was less concerned, saying that students have been really good about alternative routes to make sure they are on time to class and not to getting caught in the traffic. Mr. Gass added that, “Students are on time but it is harder for them to get to the bathrooms, so they’ll usually ask to just wait until the passing time is over and it’s cleared out, which cuts into instruction time, but it’s also completely understandable.” Mrs. Clark said of the flow of traffic into her room, “It’s hard for them to get into the class because the amount of people makes it hard for them to make the left turn and switch over. Like a car on a street.” Both complimented the way the students have handled the new changes and adjustments by being flexible and mature about handling certain things.
To see how some students have been handling the changes, they were asked how they felt about the new construction. One student said that it is really cool and they’re looking forward to using their new facilities. Another says that he enjoys the new building and how modern and nice it looks. They felt that it’s been a little difficult figuring out new routes to get to classes because of the number of students in certain areas. Essentially, they take less frequented paths to avoid congestion. The new classrooms have been enjoyable with their large whiteboard wall and modern feel. Students and teachers have admired the improvements.
The principal’s feelings on the school do not stray far from the students or faculty. She describes the new improvements as “Cool” and “Dynamite”. She also said, “There’s a nice new entrance where everyone can be greeted. Before, there wasn’t a main entrance. Now it’s much more welcoming….Everyone’s loved it, students are utilizing it for learning space. The success center is really used to emphasize learning purposes. The staff is using it and appear to be comfortable.”
There are a few things to expect next as the school year continues and construction comes to an end. For instance, another set of learning stairs will be added. They will be for teachers’ use, to play videos on a large screen, or to connect with other classrooms around America. There will be a new library, a new Success Center, and a Presentation room. 12 -14 classrooms will be renovated for new use. There will be a space called a “collaboration station,” which essentially means that teachers will no longer have singular classrooms, but will have a general area where they can collaborate on planning, and work together in a meeting environment. The rooms will include mini kitchenettes, and some may even have their own restrooms. Another addition will be lactation rooms. There will be official rooms to cater to mothers who need the privacy.
There are many things to look forward to and also many changes to be expected. Prairieis growing to make room for the future and as Denzel Washington said, “Dreams without goals are just dreams. They ultimately fuel disappointment. Goals on the road to achievement cannot be achieved without discipline and consistency.