Students Weigh In on Effects of Schoolwide Construction

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Photo By Avery Hixson

Construction continues to advance slowly at the side of the school. Currently, the builders are working on expanding the new math department and improving accessibility to the added classrooms.

By Avery Hixson and Selena Molinari

Since the start of quarantine, many construction upgrades have been in progress to improve buildings and structures throughout campus.  Currently, most of the construction is being implemented in the back of the school, near the first floor D-wing. This upcoming establishment will be a new wing for the math classrooms. Classes will be moved into a total of 26 classrooms following winter break of this year. Westwood is currently in stage four of renovations.

A master plan to rework the school was originally conceived in 2008. The plan consisted of new additions to the campus, enhancements to the already existing classrooms, and additional spaces for art and mathematics. Principal Dr. Mario Acosta expressed that obtaining the required permits for construction on Westwood was difficult and tedious, as well as something that hindered the progress of the project.

These renovations brought many new improvements to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) building. The interior of the building was completely scrapped and redone and a new marching ground was implemented. The dance department has also been granted many new additions. Earlier this week on Monday, Sept. 20, construction was completed in the new dance wing for the Sundancers and cheerleaders. The space brings new studios for cheer, dance teams, and dance classes.

“I really love how spacious our new dance wing is,” Sundancer Faye Merritt ‘23 said. “It has allowed for practices to run more smoothly since we finally have a set space.”

The construction and new features of campus have many positive aspects, such as giving the Sundancers a consistent place to practice and allowing better access to math classes in the future, but there are also some negative effects caused by the renovations. Many students and staff have trouble finding parking in the parking lots on campus due to the number of spaces that have been lost due to construction. Other students have turned to the parking lot at the tennis courts as a backup, but this lot is significantly farther from the school than the designated student parking area. The scattered nature of the few parking spots available can cause tardies and trouble getting back into school for students.

“Parking has been super frustrating and stressful this year,” Kane Seghi ‘23 said. “If you’re not super early you won’t get a spot and even if you arrive on time you will most likely be tardy.”

Additionally, the construction of the math wing has caused the portables being used for the math classes to be moved from right outside the back doors of the school to outside the gym in the middle of the parking lot. Tardies can be frequent for students who have to go from deep inside the school to the relocated portables, which adds stress to students’ schedules.

“Because of the inconvenience I’m late to my computer science class almost every day,” Sneha Nangunoori ‘23 said. “I’m always stressed when I get to class and it makes paying attention for the first few minutes really hard.”

In addition, the construction causes a lot of noise and commotion during the school day. The classrooms towards the back of the school near the construction of the math wing have to deal with significant amounts of noise as they are learning. 

“The construction noise is super distracting when I’m taking tests in a portable class,” Grace Joh ‘23 said. “I’m excited for the construction to be over and to see how everything turns out.”

Another effect of the construction is the unavailability of outdoor lunch spaces. The former portables area was shaded by trees and had several picnic tables used for lunch and completing work outdoors. A nearby courtyard area was also a common lunch area. Both of these spaces are now unavailable because of the construction. Many students miss these outdoor spaces, especially in times of a pandemic.

“Losing some of our outdoor spaces has been a bit frustrating at times,” Loren Hall ‘23 said. “They would provide a nice break from being stuck inside and allow me to refresh and relax during lunch.”

Although there are many negative factors of the construction, the changes being made to our school have been long anticipated. The renovations will be finalized by the beginning of the school year of 2023. While the construction has had some complications through the beginning of this school year, the enhancements are expected to greatly improve the ease of access to different parts of the school and progress the overall quality of campus as more and more projects are completed.

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