Lack of rooms starts more portable construction on campus

Megumi Kamikawa


American High School began construction on two new classrooms during November, built as a collective brown portable resting next to the school’s back parking lot.

The concept of the new portables originated during the spring of 2014. Although construction only began during the fall, the new vicinities were intended to provide new classroom environments for American Government and World History teacher Wali Noori, and Mandarin teacher David Miller.

“In my opinion, it is most ideal for each teacher to have a stable classroom,” Principal Musto said. “We are a growing school, and our projections indicate a continued increase in students over the next five years. While there are no immediate plans for more classrooms to be added, it is something we will need as the student population grows.”

Both of the teachers chosen to move locations expressed gratitude for the changes. Noori had to travel from one classroom to the next to comply to the lack of rooms available, which was a major component in deciding to let him settle in one of the new facilities.

“I certainly will not be missing my classroom on wheels,” Noori said. “I am ecstatic about the portables. It was challenging carting my classroom on a daily basis and a learning experience. I’m very appreciative to the teachers whom I shared rooms with, and I’m very much looking forward to having my own room.”

Similarly, Miller was stuck teaching his classes in Theater 50. While the facility does have a rather large area for students to learn, and its seats and desks have been upgraded from previous years, its environment “is not an ideal classroom,” according to Musto.

“I have mixed feelings about the change,” Miller said. “I taught in room 310 for the past seventeen years, and I liked it very much. When I was there, I felt it was good for language learning. Theater 50 is a fine room for giving lectures to a crowd of students, but not for language learning; it is far too big, and the acoustics are not good at all. It is important for my teaching style that I can easily be right in front of any student, or at any student’s side, and overall, Theater 50 lacks the intimate feel of a small classroom. I hope the new portable will be better in some of these ways; with luck, it will be a small, intimate classroom with good acoustics.”

But alongside his hopes for an improved learning environment, Miller also mentioned a few disadvantages of, once again, having to transfer to another location.

“A teacher who teaches for some time in the same classroom decorates and arranges it in accord with his or her personality, not unlike a home,” Miller said. “This is generally good for students’ learning, as they adjust to a learning environment that is comfortable, familiar, and appealing. That is one reason why it is so important that each teacher has his or her own classroom–classroom changes, even if they are sometimes necessary, disrupt this familiarity and therefore interfere with education.”

Portables Picture
Portables sit just outside one of the 300 wings, still enclosed by chain link fences. Construction ended near the beginning of December.

    Unfortunately, the construction also interefered with the education of classrooms surrounding the area, especially while school was in session. English teacher Jacqueline Gerosolimo, who teaches in proximity to the construction, noticed and shared some of the troubles over the inconvenience.

“It’s very loud and distracting,” Gerosolimo said. “It’s hard for students to pay attention when there’s something more distracting outside. I know we need them, but I don’t like the placement because we lost several trees and a lot of green, and that area generally isn’t monitored. It seemed more logical to place them by the 700 wing.”

Students who often spend time in the back of the school have also made remarks on the construction’s disturbances. Senior Allyssa Donesa and her group of friends expressed some of the troubles they encountered, especially concerning the benches.

“For the past three years, we’ve spent our time there, and they just took over our space with no warning,” Donesa said. “Now more than twenty people have to fit on one bench, and most people have to eat standing up.”

One of Donesa’s friends, senior Lillian Chow, conveyed some of her personal grievances over the changes to their typical lunch spot.

“My friends and I decided to spend our lunch periods there because it used to be really spacious, and the trees that used to be there provided excellent shade for those sunnier days,” Chow said. “School is incredibly stressful around this time of year, and for a lot of us lunch is the time for chilling out and goofing off. In the past, I would step a few yards back and hold more private conversations, but that’s rather difficult when there are two titanic portables in the way. But I’ll be graduating soon enough; this isn’t an issue so much as it is a minor annoyance. As long as those tables don’t get removed, it’s really no biggie.”

    The concerns for these disruptions were considered long beforehand by the department chairs of the Instructional Leadership Team meeting. Principal Musto has assured both students and faculty that the construction is a short-term problem that will ultimately improve the campus.

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