A Crowded Swarm
In nature, there exists a tiny crustacean called the copepod. Despite having the entire ocean to disperse throughout, copepods travel in swarms—typically, one million copepods are crammed into one cubic meter. Those crustaceans would look at Juanita High School and frown.
Juanita is overcrowded. In this school built 45 years ago, there are over 1,400 caring, unique, and intelligent students. However, I’d prefer to become acquainted with them through school clubs or classrooms, not by nearly falling into them as I squeeze my way through the packed hallways, suddenly knowing whether they had showered that morning or not.
Our school has a lot to offer, but unfortunately, space is not on that list. In several classrooms, students sit in the middle of the aisle or at a misplaced table in the back because all the desks are filled. My parents need to arrive over thirty minutes early to my orchestra concerts if they want any chance of finding a seat in the tiny auditorium. Most teachers are like nomads, wandering from classroom to classroom without an office to call their own. Navigating the hallways brings me closer to my fellow students than I’d prefer, and I have a better chance of finding Waldo than my friends in the crowd.
Springtime accentuates Juanita’s over-crowdedness most prominently, and the school transforms to a sauna. In the spring, the heat permeates the already-stuffy classes and activates the smell of over thirty sweaty teenagers jammed into a small room—and no, the old, rusty fan in the corner does not help. It’s as if global warming and our crowded building got together to wish us good luck on our final exams.
To thrive academically and socially, students need a myriad of tools. Already, Juanita has exceptional teachers, motivated pupils, and a highly supportive environment—the only requirement missing is the proper space to learn in comfort. Juanita is an outstanding and admirable school, one that I am proud to be a part of; yet its age and crowded conditions are incongruous with its excellence in other aspects.
On the positive side, Juanita is warm and welcoming. On the negative side, it is crowded, old, and often times a bit smelly. Such adjectives seem more appropriate for a cheese-aging room than an extraordinary school.
The copepod swims in crowded swarms by choice. But for Juanita High students, the decision to expand our swarm does not lie solely with us. Vote for the upcoming bond measure—help our students swim freely.
Published in Kirkland Views, March 29, 2016