New D-Wing Receives Mixed Responses



The construction of the new D-wing has been completed and all math classes have moved to the newly built classrooms. However, the wing has received mixed responses from students and staff. Photo courtesy of RRISD

The construction of the new D-wing at Westwood has shifted many classes since the start of the spring semester. From inside to outside, from portables to brand new classrooms, from big spaces to smaller ones. The change has received many mixed responses from both students and staff.

“I have lunch before both my classes so I had to walk from the parking lot to the portables, and it increased my parking time,” Catherine Zhang ‘22 said. “I like the classrooms, they’re nicer than the portables, but the location, the hallways get very crowded. And it takes a while to get there.”

The change has significantly affected walk time between classes. Prior to the construction of the new wing, students would have to walk around the outside of the school in order to get to their classes in the portables. While the wing has allowed for a shorter commute in between blocks, it has also increased the walk time for students before and after school.

“[Getting] to my car after school is annoying,” Giselle Kiefer ‘22 said. “[There is] always traffic. Being at the portable [was] way easier, because I could get to my car before traffic. But now I get there later, and I get [caught in it].”

Additionally, several fine arts classes have been displaced, making it difficult for some classes to function effectively. 

“[The space] is better for discussion. It’s a little homier,” theater teacher Ms. Lydia Coats said about their portable when comparing it to the Black Box. “On nice days, when we can separate and work outside, that really helps. But on nasty days and cold days, where we all have to work inside, it’s so hard to get focused.”

Several theater students dislike the cramped portable after being in the spacious Black Box. The more space, the easier and more efficient it is to act.

“It feels like less of a performing space now, and it’s not even more like a classroom, it’s just like a weird in-between,” Katherine Giles ‘22 said. “It’s hard to adapt to the change.”

Theater classes often need to separate into groups at times to practice their scenes. Moving to the portables has made this particularly difficult.

“[It’s different] not being able to go and adventure off into the different spaces like we could before in the black box,” Ellie Damuth ‘22 said. “It’s very hard to focus on your group only, because there are so many other things happening at the same time. And to prioritize the actors we have, you have to focus on what you’re saying while all the other things are happening.”

Even the scenes have had to be adapted to the new space.

“I think the biggest thing is, our original space, with the black box, which is such an incredible performance space because we had the stand where everyone would sit in the audience, and a designated stage space,” Eva De Guelle ‘22 said. “But now, since we’re in a portable, we really have to think about things on a more technical side, and challenge ourselves to create theater in ways that we haven’t before. We originally performed [our scene in] just regular proscenium stage style, but now, since everyone is sitting in a circle, we decided to place the scene in the middle of the room. So, that changes everything about the blocking.”

Figuring out how to run a theater class in the smaller space will definitely still take time.

“We’re still adapting. It’s only been two weeks,” Ms. Coats said.

The changes made with the new D-wing have created many new situations for many different students. The new distances, the new classrooms, and the displacement of fine arts classes. While the adjustment period is still ongoing, the change will be a new mountain to climb in the onslaught of difficulties that the pandemic has brought. Even so, students are quickly adjusting. Whether it’s construction, virtual learning, canceled plans, or a new variant, students continue to thrive in these uncertain times.