The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

The Budget

The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

The Budget

The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

The Budget

Building design issues cause problems for staff, students

Fire in culinary room highlights multiple architectural shortcomings
Lily Norton

Lawrence High’s building is an insufficient and ill-equipped facility for the children and teachers it is meant to serve.

Between the poor equipment, poor layout and poor visual appeal, this building is inadequate.

Aside from the constant drips of brown goop raining down from the ceiling and the occasional electrical failures, there are glaring issues in the way this building functions. One of the more recent examples of such flaws came from the culinary classroom.

A couple months ago, the culinary room had a small fire that — if the room was properly equipped for a cooking class — wouldn’t have been a problem. However, the lack of proper ventilation made the small flame create a massive amount of smoke, which built up in the room, yet didn’t trigger the fire alarm.

After the incident, culinary teacher Rose Barry was forced to cut back her curriculum almost entirely, being told the extent of cooking they could do was boiling. Their entire year was almost hijacked due to this change, preventing almost every unit they had planned. Weeks later, they finally got the go-ahead to cook again without an expensive ventilation system being added.

My question is why on earth wasn’t a class with more than a dozen ovens fully ventilated to start with? Why didn’t the fire alarms go off when the culinary room filled with smoke? Why do other student kitchens at Free State and the College and Career Center have ventilation?

In short, because of poor planning, everyone loses. And this isn’t the only way the building’s flaws have impacted classes.

Similar issues with ventilation have prevented art classes from participating in planned curriculum. Drawing and painting teacher Todd Poteet has had to cut back on using certain materials.

Most teachers don’t have the bandwidth to fight to have their classrooms fixed. They’re too busy adapting to the issues that come up during the year, some of which are caused by the building.

In short, because of poor planning, everyone loses.

Plenty of rooms don’t have ample seating or desks for the classes they are meant to house, causing teachers to find ways to accommodate and properly equip all of the students in their classes. The sizing of rooms wouldn’t be such an issue if the additional spaces provided were more effective, yet they haven’t really been as useful as advertised.

Learning pockets are meant to be supplemental learning spaces shared between two classrooms that both classrooms have access to. A large number of them are mis-used, abandoned or are left to the hallway truants. One of the pockets in the math hallway has been derelict and condemned since last year. A quick peek behind the black curtain enveloping the space will reveal a pipe contraption leading to a bucket filling with suspicious ceiling stew.

The unreliability of the learning pockets means that most teachers can’t rely on them as spaces for their students, and the complete lack of supervision means mis-use is commonplace. They tend to look like a herd of elephants has passed through.

This also ties into the most egregious issue with the building: it’s an excessively gray, brutalist, Kafkaesque, depressing, cultureless, corporate warehouse. I’m slightly exaggerating, but the majority of the building is an industrial eyesore, and poorly represents the history and culture that Lawrence High represents.

The monochrome-dreary-steel-and-glass of the walls and halls of this school tend to make this building look less like a center for learning and more like a penitentiary. If it weren’t for the addition of the odd red wall or the beautiful murals, this building would be absolutely unbearable.

The absence of necessary resources in the building and the lack of thoughtful planning and equipment have caused major inconveniences for students and staff, which in addition to the terrible visual appeal, make this building a sham of a school.

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About the Contributors
Finn Lotton-Barker, Social Media Co-Editor in Chief
I'm a fourth-year staffer and second-year editor-in-chief for the journalism program. I have worked as a writer, reporter, designer, website editor-in-chief, and social media editor-in-chief in my time on staff. I have placed at state in KSPA multiple times in multiple categories and have had my stories featured on 'Best of Student Newspaper Online' numerous times. Outside of journalism, I participate in student council, scholars bowl, marching and concert band, and Lawrence Ballet Theatre. For any questions concerning our coverage, feel free to email me at [email protected] or [email protected].
Lily Norton, Designer
I am a first-year designer and illustrator for the LHS Journalism staff. When I'm not designing, you can find me playing the string bass, painting, collecting cards and working at Encore Café. I am also involved with several bands and the LHS symphonic orchestra.

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