Construction Causes Congested Hallways

Tara Lawson, Staff Reporter

The $23.6 million addition to the MHS building started at the end of the 2014-2015 school year in May and continues into this year. It’s predicted to be finished in the summer of 2016 and be open for use in the 2016-2017 school year.

However, construction during the school day has proven to be difficult for students and faculty. With a portion of the B-Wing closed, students must navigate more congested hallways and take longer routes to classes.

Some of the blockage is because construction workers need to be able to get larger materials into what was previously a courtyard. As a result, a section of the building was torn down to provide an entrance for trucks. This has made it easier for workers, but some classrooms and offices have been relocated, which has changed how much time students might normally need to get to certain areas of the school.

Now, for example, students who have a class in the D-wing struggle to make it to class on time if they are on the other side of the blocked off section of the B-wing, but many teachers have tried to be accommodating for those with classes on extreme ends of the building.

“The bigger issue is if you go all the way down to the far end, that’s math. I’ve noticed that some of the math teachers are letting their students out a minute early, so they can try to get down there before the huge rush, but I do think in general most of the teachers are more lenient and understanding if students show up 30 seconds or so late,” said Science Department Chair Dr. David Greenwood.

He said that students coming from the English hallway should be able to make it during the five-minute passing periods, but students coming from the World Languages hallway might encounter obstacles with added traffic in more limited spaces.

“It’s even hard for me to go from my office [to] just across the hall when everybody is coming out of the classes because everybody comes down the hallway,” he said, “so you’re talking about fifteen classrooms of students coming down the hall at one time. Trying to get across is impossible, and then you’ve got students coming from the other way trying to get to there, so it’s just one big blob going one way and then one big [blob] the next way.”

One area that’s seeing an increase in congestion is the bus entrance area. Before the construction, students had two ways to enter the B-wing to the math and science rooms, but now there is only one route, which passes by the bus entrance.

“It makes me want to rush to every single class,” said Mikela Villanueva, senior, “because I have to chart out where I have to go, and it takes me longer to get to classes.”

Villanueva said that going from the farthest side of the B-Wing to just the girls gym locker room takes her longer than normal because there’s more traffic and she has to go all the way around.

Security Guard, Donalie Bolke, said that the construction has made her job more difficult because she can’t walk down the second entrance that used to exist for the B-Wing.

“Blocking off the hallway is a big deal because there’s only one way in now, and it’s so packed, so [the kids] might be a few minutes late,” said Bolke.

She also said that the security guards have tried to be more lenient on kids walking in the hallways for a few minutes after the bell.

But for many, the new inconveniences now will be worth the benefits of the new addition.

According to Dr. Greenwood, the new addition to the school includes a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Lab where students will conduct their own independent and group research as well as a PLTW (Project Lead the Way) Lab, which is for pre-engineering classes with hands-on work.

Additionally, the new addition will include a “Business Incubator” classroom where students can create and pitch ideas to a panel, as one might see on the TV show “Shark Tank.” Also, there are four chemistry labs, three general labs, fifteen classrooms, a new entrance and courtyards for student use.

Administration is confident that the project, with its inconveniences for some, will not last longer than the projected timeframe.

The company doing the construction has done other MHS building addition projects, such as an addition to the library and updates to science lab rooms.
Dr. Greenwood said, “All the projects this group has worked on, they’ve always been on time. Their track record is very good at being done on time. It’s an awful inconvenience, but [we’re] pretty confident it will be done on time.”