--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---
Ahh, my first day of high school. As I walk through the halls looking for the gym I look around andnotice how disgusting this schoolis compared to Chippens Hill. The gym floor looks ancientand the floor was so bumpy. The gym teacher informed us that because of the swamp underneath Bristol Eastern it is pushing the floor boards up. He also informs us that the floor will be redone and I definitely think it is in need of it. The gym floor sems inadequate for P.E. students and basketball players to be using. Hopefully the next time Ihave gym it will be in the gym and not in the bottom of a swamp.
The first day of school is hard enough as it is it's even harder still when you're a freshman and it's darn near impossible when you're school is undergoing major renovation. While walking down an unfamiliar hallway on day number one of the school year, I was hopelessly lost. Spying an upperclassman I was familiar with, I stopped and asked if they could kindly show me the way to this apparently non-existent classroom. Being the kind hearted individual that he was, he grabbed my hand and proceeded to drag me down a myriad of twisting and turning hallways, intent on showing me a wonderful shortcut that would be sure to save me time and energy. After traveling for a few minutes, I began to wonder what his definition of the word "short cut" was. All of a sudden we were stopped short by a large piece of white plaster-type wall blocking the hallway. Just then the bell rang, and he uttered a barely audible four letter word. It turns out his wonderful short cut was blocked off by the construction taking place in the hallway, and we were both late for class on the first day of school quite a way to make an impression, huh?
If I had any presumptions about perhaps this construction being a good idea, then today they were forgotten. I was late for my English class when a group of freshman, who were obviously lost, dazed or apparently stupid, stood in the middle of the hallway and decided to talk to each other amidst the confusion and traffic of the mid day rush. Normally I would have decided to miss the whole mess of the "naive and stupid" in the hallway, but due to the remodeling of the hallway of my choice I didn't have another option to access. Also even though it is only day three of school I have heard all about the construction, the details of how long it will take, and how troubling it has been for faculty and students alike. I now know that the construction will take approximately 900 days, which in junior time doesn't mean much since I will be out of this school by the time that they are done. Therefore I don't really care about this, except that it is causing me to be late for classes. On a whole I actually can't think of any good that is coming out of this for my benefit. I have complaining teachers that are traveling around and in time I feel will lose my papers in the confusion and stupid freshman that are adding to my troubles as well. The only upside in this is the making fun of the situation as much that it can be made fun of. For example the hallway that holds the history department has no ceiling or floor which gives it a "bat cave" appearance that throws off echoes that are really quite humorous to hear and to say. Those are the two good sides the ONLY good sides. Now I am wondering what tomorrow will be like or what room I will be in, if one at all??
When I was walking to my science class, it occurred to me this morning just how inconvenient the new construction at Bristol Central was going to make day-to-day life. Usually, to get to the science room, I would just have to walk down one of the connecting halls and take a right. Well, it's no longer that easy. I must now go down two flights of stairs to the bottom floor, across the bottom flor, then back up two flights of stairs. Oh, I'm startig to love it already. Now, the construction workers have at least been able to open up one of the connecting halls in the middle floor, so that cross- school transit has been made a little easier. However, it is still very tough to get to classes without having to go a long way out of the way. Just to mention that would of course be leaving out the fact that the school now resembles a dungeon, with the atmosphere not exactly making the whole experience any easier to put up with. I'm a senior, though, so I know the school already. It's the freshmen who are really suffering. How am I supposed to tell my freshman sister how to get to class when I am not even sure? It's sad to see the scared looks of the freshmen as they take a turn and realize that they are at a dead end, trapped in a building that has all the charm of a medieval torture chamber. I'd stop to laugh, but I have to find out how to get to my next class.
English class. We're reading Streetcar Named Desire. My teacher tells us it was once called The Poker Night. We're all fascinated. Really. Stanley slaps Stella in the kitchen and we all gasp. In my mind Marlon Brando wails into the night: "STELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAA!!!" and then... BBBBBBBBBBBRRTTTTTTTTTTKKKKKKBBBBBBBBRTTTTTTTKKKKKKK Construction plods on. That scratching sound in the distance can only be poor Mr. Williams turning slowly in his grave.
It's the start of a new day and I'm on my way to Mr. McMahon's English class. Up the stairs and around a corner, I find myself in the midst of a cave-like hallway with no floor or ceiling. The concrete is gritty under my new Steve Maddens and I'm deathly afraid that a strange, unknown substance is going to fall from the ceiling and ruin my hair. I push through the mass of students when I spot the room and step inside. I take my seat and reach into my bag for my textbook. Half an hour later, I am rudely interrupted from reading about Walter Mitty's secret life with a loud,ear-piercing BBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPPP! I look up, startled, and realize that it's just the construction, and go back to reading about the great Waterbury trial.
A few days ago, my entire gym class had to run a few laps on the outdoor track. While some people breezed through it, I'm not athletically inclined and I huffed and I puffed the whole way. When I finally finished that fourth lap, I collapsed on the grass. A loud rumble stirred me from my rest and I sat up a little to see what it was all about. I saw that a few workers had attached what appeared to be a giant slide to one of the windows. Huge chunks of plaster were being deposited into the chute in a flurry of chalky white dust, and the rubble was emptied into a giant dumpster. It was an interesting distraction to the boring gym class!
It's 1:30, and it's the end of another steamy September afternoon at good old B.C.. The heat is intensified by the fact that this construction nonsense has segregated the hall I'm in, stagnating the already humid air. I drift into an uncomfortable doze, but, unfortunately, wake up seconds later. Now to worsen the situation, I have yet another so-called "asbestos headache." It feels as though two men in hard hats are standing on either side of me, taking turns bashing my skull deeper and deeper into my desk.... Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, my headache vanishes, and two construction workers pass by my classroom, with their hard hats and hammers, off to give some other poor kid their headache. And I wonder if I'm not dreaming all this, too.
High school, the best four years of my life! Well, that rumor is coming to an end, and pretty quickly for that matter. How am I supposed to enjoy my high school career when I can't even find my way to classes? This renovation project is completely throwing me off track. Try to imagine yourself as a frightened 14-year-old trying to overcome puberty while being shoved into a school filled with adults with fully grown beards. I mean, that's horrifying enough already, isn't it? Now on top of all that I have to worry about finding my way around the school. They should just send us to boot camp. And not only that, but by the time we catch the drift of things we are shipped out and moved off to different classes. Not only is the renovation making me get lost, but it is also annoying me during class. Just the other day I had to complete a test in all this racket because of the renovation. And in my math class we always have to repeat ourselves 4 or 5 times because the teacher can't hear us over the construction. Overall, I despise the construction work. I highly doubt that the results are going to be worth the three years of havoc that the students have to put up with. But then again, there is nothing I can do about it so I guess I am just going to have to deal with it like everyone else for now.
I was poking at something on my styrafoam lunch tray with a little plastic fork and just beginning to worry about the Italian test next period. A friend of mine turned to me slowly and said: "Has it occurred to you yet that we could very well be breathing the asbestos they're removing in the renovation?" I said: "I have reflexive verbs and this artificial steak sandwhich to contend with just now...no health issues, please." She said: "Think about it, it just can't be safe." I said: "I have. It can't. You're right." She said: "So what do you think of it?" I said: "I think that if I breathe deeply near the English hall I may escape a foreign language quiz..." She said: "Oh." And then she moved to another table.
I am in study hall trying to read a short story for lit class. I have read and reread the same line about six times. I sigh, slam my book shut and realize there is no way I can concentrate. Being on the lower level, the classrooms don't have ceilings, just metal roofs that magnify the sound of everything. The rustling of chairs and books on concrete only increases the noise level, and because of all this noise there is no way anyone can concentrate or do any homework. Teachers try to yell above the noise but it is no use, it just adds to it. Although I know the construction will last only a few years, it won't be done soon enough.
While you are walking down the hallways you can't help but notice the depressing mood you are forced into. The dark hallway engulfs you and saddens your soul. You are pushed into a dim room waiting to work, yet anticipating the sound of the bell at the end of class. Perhaps you can't wait until you get out of the dreary room to see the light of day. As you work, you may be disturbed by the rustle of desks being moved around in the classroom above you. You may find it hard to concentrate because of the noise. As the freshman class stepped into the polished floor of a Bristol Eastern High School hallway they could not help but notice the renovations. The cement floors and the rooms without ceilings. It may not effect you individually, but I'm sure that there are some students who are feeling the effects. Many students believe that the renovations are an inconvenience now, but will help the school in the long run.
Bristol Eastern High School construction has made achieving education impossible. Two halls have been blocked off, and signs are posted everywhere informing staff and students of the inherent dangers. Of course, this is just a waste of paper since the noise level is enough of a declaration in itself. For instance, I was walking my friend to class this morning and the workers were so disruptive that we couldn't even hear each other's talk. Trying to get around teachers strolling shopping carts is also an ever-increasing hassle, as well as an embarrassment for teacher and student alike. The only way of coping is to take the environment with humor and play "Guess the Interruption."
STUDENT:"So...when exactly are we going to use this?" TEACHER:"Well,actually, Geometry is used in a lot of everyday occupations." STUDENT: "So, 'engineer' is an everyday occupation these days?" TEACHER: "You see, it's a common misconception that only engineers use geometry. Why, the men working at the school renovations need a stronggrounding in geometry to go about their jobs." STUDENT: "So what you're trying to tell me is that you can use geometry to do things loudly and over budget, inconveniencing everyone?" TEACHER:"Um...not exactly. Okay, let's try this again..."
Having your school remodeled has its ups and downs, but mostly it's just a pain. Some kids don't mind it because it gives them an excuse to be a couple minutes late to class. Other times, I guess you could say that it's good to have one of those all too frequent bangs shock you to attention when you're drifting off during a boring lecture. Personally, I can't say either way, because I'm only a freshman and I haven't experienced Central as a construction-free school, and it looks like I won't be seeing it for awhile. Then again, I don't appreciate starting my high school experience like this in the first place. It's kind of hard to concentrate on what you're doing when the noises above your head are so loud that you think the ceiling is going to fall on your head any minute, or better yet, when the noises make it sound like you're being shot from the next room. The thing that bothers me most, though, is that as a freshman by the time I get used to my classes, it's time to move somewhere new. Even worse, since all the rooms are already filled, my classes are going to probably end up being in the auditorium of the cafeteria. So, while by now I'm pretty much used to it, life under construction isn't the greatest thing in the world, but in its defense I know eventually it will make our school even better, and it's not the worst thing in the world either. We can all take an extra minute or two to get to class. So, as you're taking that detour towards your next class, just think to yourself how nice the hallways of our schools will look once there aren't any construction workers and debris everywhere.
Sitting in study hall, I'm trying to do my creative writing homework. In front of me sits a clean white sheet of paper, with the words "Where were you last night?" Ready for my next line, and a good idea strikes. With my pen on the paper, the sound of saws and hammers then slam into my ears from down the hall. "Last night I was right in the middle of a war zone." With the construction work going on, I can't even get my homework done. Every time I got a great idea the construction scrambled my wits about me, so I lost the idea. So I slammed my notebook shut and spent the rest of the period trying to do my chemistry work.
Driver's Ed. I was confirming in No.2 pencil that one should always come to a complete stop before turning right on red. "TRY TO REMEMBER WHAT YOU"VE LEARNED ABOUT 'K TURNS'!" yelled the teacher over a symphony of hammers, nails, and god knows just what else. "WHAT?!" We wailed back. I had decided to kill them all, one by one, when suddenly it stopped. All of it. Silence. Through the wide gap just below the celing on theback wall, there came two voices: "Hey, you know we went to Red Lobster last night?" "No...what'dja have?" "Chicken." "Chicken?" "Yeah, chicken." "Okay." "What? What's wrong with Chicken?" "Nothing. There's nothing wrong with chicken. I didn't say nothing." "No, you didn't SAY nothing, but..." We all put down our pencils, looked around us, laughed because we thought that we might cry.
While sitting in Mr. McMahon's English class, I was fully enraptured by the lecture he was giving us and actively taking notes (being the wonderful student that I am). When I looked down at my paper and prepared to take notes, I noticed a few little white specks of something on decorating my desk. After poking the suspicious substance a few times to be sure it wouldn't spontaneously jump up and bite me, I shrugged and flicked it off my desk. A short time later, one of those familiar loud bangs that you hear coming from down the hall echoed throughout the classroom, disturbing the attentive students trying to concentrate on their English assignment. Rather amused and slightly annoyed, I looked up at the ceiling, the general direction that the noise seemed to be coming from. Just my luck. As I lifted my face up to the ceiling, a shower of little white flecks rained down like snowflakes onto my face and desk. Great. The ceiling was falling on my head, and the rest of the day I got the honor of walking around looking as if I had a severe case of dandruff, all thanks to the lovely renovations.
I'm sitting in class and I hear a 'thud' so incredibly loud that I am sure if I look out the window the sky will be falling. And I can't help but think that somewhere in this building, a house has just fallen on my sister.
I couldn't think in history today. My head was pounding and it wasn't from the cold I'm coming down with. No, it was from all the that terrible clanging coming from the direction of the construction. The sound echoed in my ears and bounced off the walls. I almost couldn't stand it anymore! But finally, it stopped. I was rejoicing! Now maybe I could think straight. I finished up what I was working on and put my head down on my desk, hoping to catch up on some of the ZZZs that I missed last night. But as soon as I got comfortable, the banging started again. I sighed and thought: "Will it ever stop?" Well, the answer to that question is yes, but not before I'm long gone.
Sure it's a nuisance, but I can take all the noise. I have even learned to live with taking a roundabout way to class. And the fact that one of the bathrooms doesn't have running water for the sinks is a thing I can work around. But today was the last straw: these hard hat bullies bagged up the last openly available water fountain in the whole school. This is an atrocity! It is unthinkable that a person should have to go a large part of the day inhaling fine construction dust into her lungs, and not be able to wash it down with a refreshingly cool drink from a fountain. What has this school come to? They may as well just turn off the electricity, send the teachers home, and take away my books, because I cannot work like this.
12:10. Finally. After sitting through an hour and a half of my English substitute babbling about Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" I was definitely ready for lunch. The bell rings, and I'm walking down the hall with my friend, talking about the varsity football game that night. The conversation stops and I'm looking in front of me. All of a sudden a panel from the hallway ceiling slips out of its place above us and lands on the head of the girl right in front of me. It doesn't hit her too hard, but it did hit her. She brushes it off and keeps on walking. Life goes on. No one cares. Later I talk to a friend about what happened. He told me about how earlier in the day he had almost got hit with a clump of wires. Well, all I can think is, has it come to this, where we're getting hit with objects falling from the ceiling when we're in school?
So there I was in first period daydreaming about my knight in shining armor, when I was rudely interrupted by a loud thump. Needless to say it was the construction. I looked up sharply, noticed that my nails needed to be done and then settled back into my daydream. Once again I was caught off guard. One time is enough but twice is to much. There you have it, life under construction is extremely hard when you are trying to fantasizing.
Today I stood in the rain with dozens of other sleepy eyed, slow moving second period students, wondering what was really going on. A fire drill at 9 a.m., in the rain, for no apparent reason. Rumors buzzed within the small crowds of similarly dressed students that it was all about the renovations. The work had somehow found a fire alarm. No, I thought, it couldn't be that simple. Inconvenient, sure, but no, not this. I was sure there was some other explanation. I was wrong, but then, I often am....
Think. Think. Think. Writing can be so difficult at times. I'm sitting in study hall on this miserable Tuesday morning writing a piece for the construction journal. I begin, "I haven't been hearing much noise seeping out of the forbidden caves of renovations, lately." Of course, the "White-Out" gods choose to correct me when a huge crash resounds from above. It doesn't really matter what it was, just as long as something is happening to the building. We can't credit the construction workers for all our dismal times during the school day, though. There is the occassional stink bomb and gang of impossible freshmen roaming the halls. But construction does account for at least fifty percent of our troubles. The other fifty percent previously was reserved for the administrators.
I was near the tech wing, typing something. That's simply where the best computers are. It was raining, yet again, and, as I listened to the Principal warn us of the flooding, I noticed that a small square patch of ceiling had fallen, shattered in the hallway. It was soaked and crumbling in its pile. You may take from these things what you will....
On my way to drama I noticed couples in the hallway busy groping and couples fighting in their raised, shrill voices and I remembered that we were reading "Biloxi Blues." I wondered who would volunteer to read the part of the prostitute and who would taunt her for it. I passed a large and rather unattractive, sealed off section of the building. Renovations. They'd covered the partitions and thin walls with student artwork, photographs. "Cute, " I thought, and knew that they were trying. You have to give them credit where you can. They're starting asbestos removal today, ceilings and floors, at 2:05. I have after school activities. I'm suddenly very afraid to have after school activities. There's something wrong there, VERY, VERY wrong.
8 a.m. The first time the constructional actually affected me directly. This is the morning when all the members of the class of 2000, at least those who want to go to college, take the test that could save them a lot of money. After only a couple of hours of review and six hours of sleep, I entered the auditorium side of Bristol Eastern High School at 8 o’clock sharp, ready to take my PSATs. There was a mob of over 200 juniors, some sophomores, and is that a freshman over there? You couldn’t see the end over the sea of heads. Partly to make conversation, and partly out of curiosity, I asked my friends what the hold-up was. Either someone smartened up, or there was no room due to construction because the annual Teddy Bear Jamboree was held at St. Paul’s, instead of in our school during PSAT testing. So it couldn’t have been that. Of course nobody knew the answer. After standing in the mob for a few minutes, I told my friend that I could have been home getting some more sleep. We were finally freed and about half of us lined up at the door of the cafeteria to get signed in. Yes, the cafeteria. The kid in front of me exclaimed, "Oh, there’s desks!" And I repeated the same when I entered. Well, at least we weren’t taking one of the most important tests of our lives on long tables where when we have to look up when done, we see someone’s face, which is kind of annoying while you’re supposed to be concentrating your test, not on the way the person across from you looks early Saturday morning. Due to the asbestos removal in the math hallway (which, by the way, I heard was supposed to be removed from the whole building this past summer, oh well, so why start it the morning of the PSATs out of all days?), our room assignments got changed at the last minute. And I was one of the lucky many to get stuck in the cafeteria. When I sat down at my desk way in the back, I thought to myself, this doesn’t seem as bad as I expected. The desks were nicely spread out. Then I saw our proctors with large pieces of construction paper (no pun intended). I thought they were going to tape them to the windows in the doors so we wouldn’t be distracted. Instead, my proctor taped the big bright yellow sheet of paper on the wall, and wrote something that I could not interpret from the back row. She said she was going to write our ending times on that sheet. OK, but I told her I couldn’t read it from my seat. She wrote the times big enough for everyone to read. I realized that the cafeteria had no chalk and/or dry erase board, which could be very useful for the proctors as well as for the students. Then I wondered if they had thought this out. You know, there are portable boards. I commented to my friend that I felt like we went to a very poor, meaning cheap school. Then she said she was going to walk around with a sign from time to time to let us know how many minutes we have left. I thought she was joking. But she actually snaked around us, holding up the appropriate sign for each time interval. Passing out booklets and answer sheets usually takes less than a minute in a normal classroom setting. But with four times the amount of people in the café, it took forever. I just wanted to get started so I can get out early. When we finally began the actual test, I could not concentrate. Normally I work better with noise. But the Fruitopia machine was just letting out an annoying moan. Of course everyone who was in a normal classroom was out a half-hour before us. We would have been out a couple of minutes earlier if they didn’t ask if there were any St. Paul students about five times. We should have taken the test there -- at least they don’t have any asbestos (not that I know of).
Hi. I am writing to inform everyone that the two public high schools in Bristol aren't the only schools that serve the Bristol Area are under construction. I am a junior at E.C. Goodwin R.V.T.S. in New Britain and life there is pandemonium. The math center (Room 239) is being renovated so they can put in 11 computer terminals. I can never find the teachers. It's like A Day Mods 5, 6, 7 meet in room 208, B Day 9, 11, 12 meet in room 214, etc. It's even worse for the rest of the school. There is no kitchen! Instead, there's a little "cubicle" with which we have to make 250 sandwiches everyday. The maintenance department has moved in the convection oven, but the electrician still hasn't hooked it up, so it's still sandwiches. God only knows when the blasted construction will start. We have had so many start dates it's no longer funny. At any rate, once they do start it will take 120 working days to complete our new state-of-the- art kitchen. Time-line: June 1, 1998, asbestos removal slated to start (did not get funding); July 15, asbestos removal slated to start (did not get funding); August 1, finally got funding; Aug. 29, asbestos removal completed; Sept. 1, demolishing of walls/construction Slated to begin (not done); Oct. 15, demolishing of walls/construction slated to begin (not done); Oct. 19, demolishing of walls/construction slated to begin (not done).
Sigh. It'a Monday morning. I'm on my way to first period geometry. 'Nuff said. While making my merry way through the foreign language hallway, I am suddenly overcome by a sickening aura of diesel putrescence infiltrating my innocent lungs. I gag violently due to this unexpected disturbance in my otherwise serene respiration. This is a school, not a gas station! Holding a too-long sleeve over my face, contorted with disgust, I hastily exit the deadly hallway, escaping it's volatile contents. I suppose I'll have to continue with my existence now. Grumble. Work and progress...BLAH!
Due to the fact than an overwhelming majority of past construction journal entries have had extremely negative connotations with somewhat cynical undertones, I have resolved to bring attention to the finer points of Bristol Eastern's current renovations. A thrilling attribute of our renovations is the daily mob of students that engulf the minuscule capacity of the halls. Isn't it a nice change of pace to converse with your neighbor while only inches from their face? It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'too close for comfort.' I don't even have to move, quite convenient actually. I just float along in the midst of a cattle herd signaled by the ringing of monotonous bells. Moooo... Also, what all the fuss about the construction noises? They don't bother me, I actually find them quite invigorating, especially while taking a test. The answers seem to resound ever so clearly in the recesses of my mind, or maybe that's just the jack-hammering. Yes, I'd say they're almost musical. Who knows? Among the construction workers there may by the next Mozart: bang-whap-korf-rat-tat. Well, there you have it. Renovations can be fun! Flexibility, people. Flexibility!
I have always thought it a cruel joke to give false hope. The English teachers have been informed they will have their rooms returned to them by Christmas. I highly doubt this in our futures. In addition, the lack of insullation, ceiling, and tiles has made Eastern incredibly cold. The main problem with this is administration doesn't allow jackets to be worn in the building. Of course, God forbid they turn the heat up a notch. (It might waste tax money!)
You know how your're walking down the hall and the bell rings for the start of class, and your're almost there, and you are tardy? It hasn't happened to me yet, but it might because of artifical walls blocking some hallways. I think they should at least reduce the size of the walls, and put a wall going down both sides of the hallways so you can at least use all of them.
There's one thing about this construction that I can't quite figure out. How, with a rule that prohibits the wearing of coats in school, are we supposed to avoid hypothermia in English class? Believe me, it's hard enough to concentrate on Mr. McMahon reading The Merchant of Venice with my fingers turning blue and my teeth chattering so loudly I can hardly hear it -- as if I would have any clue as to what "sooth" meant anyway!
Driving into the parking lot this morning, I find that the entrance to the side lot is now blocked off, that the front has a strip of dirt separating it. Wow, now I found that the construction has found every possible way of disrupting my life. Not only must I make a journey out of my trips to class, but I also must go off-roading to get to my parking space.
My day started off well. I was doing fine and hadn't made any major mistakes. I was thinking about how good I was doing when dust particles started to fall on my head. At first it was fine, but over and over again, that was when it became a problem. After thousands of particles flew into my hair my day was ruined. On top of all of that, my hair was dusty.
Well, I'm in English, and about ready to act out a "dumb show." Now, this would be hard enough, given my complete lack of acting talent, but now the banging in the background has made it impossible to hear my teacher's directions on play. At least when my performance comes up pitiful, I can just blame it on the construction.
Every day I pass by the large, gray barrier walls the construction workers have placed, blocking off two of our second floor hallways and one of the first floor halls without a second thought. It's just another part of our lives. But today a construction worker left one open for a few minutes. And of course I couldn't resist taking a quick peek, and I have to say I was more than a little disappointed. With all the commotion that comes from those halls you'd expect to see the "Promised Land," or at least a small improvement from the halls that are available. But all I saw was a hallway even worse-looking than the one I was walking down. I guess I shouldn't expect any more than that for a long time.
Today in film study we watched "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid." Construction had already caused us to turn the volume all the way up. Okay so we're sitting there and the most famous part of the movie comes up. So of course the din from the construction reaches an all-time high. I missed everything that was said! I also missed most of the movie because I couldn't hear. Oh, why couldn't the noise have disrupted English or Chemistry.
Over the past few months, construction at Eastern has continued at an agonizingly slow pace. Deadlines, deadlines... first Thanksgiving, then Christmas, now who knows? Where will it end? More importantly when? We've all become used to the sights, sounds, and yes, even smells of the renovations. It's started to blend into the background, as most things do. Despite the inconvenience and fear of asbestos, the construction will continue for a very long time, and although we can't do anything about it, this too will pass. The dust isn't quite ready to settle yet, so we might as well get used to it.
About a week ago all students who attend Central received in the mail the latest issue of "BC Link," the school's bulletin. It reported on how the construction had finished Phase One, and was ready for the next. It gave no information as to what has actually occurred inside those hidden hallways. But they do assure us that we'll all have to get used to a new obstacle course of halls once the corridors have opened. All any of us know for sure is that they dug a hole so large that you could actually see into the usually buried basement. Soon after, they filled in the hole which made it look exactly the same as it did before we had a month with a moat to welcome you to Bristol Central with. I think many of us would mind these eyesores and inconveniences less if the school would take the time to explain them to us. We would be much more content with the huge dirt piles and overcrowded halls if maybe BC Link or anyone else would tell us what's going on with the work instead of simply reassuring us that, "breath safety checks will continue."
I knew, mind you, I just knew that today was going to be a bad day. So, of course, the feeling's confirmed. I go to my locker to put my coat away and it's surrounded by a few inches of water. "Good thing I wore my boots today," I mutter to myself as I put the coat into the locker. I head towards the science wing, and this riveting or saw sound starts up and, scares me into dropping my purse on the floor. Then the glass perfume sampler breaks in my purse as it hits the cement floor. "Another wonderful day at Bristol Eastern High! I really hope that Spanish is a bit better."
I was sitting in my world history class, and coming down with a small case of hypothermia (or that's how I was feeling at the time, at least). It's the end of January and all of the windows in our class were open. I asked if someone could please just close the window. Before anyone could oblige, my teacher informed us that she had been told to keep the windows open, because the "air quality" in her room wasn't very clean. Oh, but don't worry, she said, we could wear our coats that day. I sighed as I pulled my wool gloves over my fingers while I tried to keep taking notes.
Construction on the new kitchen at E.C. Goodwin Tech finally got under way on Nov. 22, five months later than originally planned. I was back there about two weeks ago and there is nothing left. All the walls were gone and the floor was gone. They dug up the floor to put in new pipes and grease traps. Last I heard they were hoping to be finished by the middle of May, though we won't use it until next school year. The tenth grades stay in a temporary kitchen preparing sandwiches or foods that only has to be bake since all we have in a convection oven. The eleventh graders are working at UConn Medical Center in Farmington and they are helping out at the Bristol Technical Education Center. Construction in the math center has been completed. It looks great. The new math center has a lot of computers that the students can get math help on. Before Christmas break the renovation of the Auditorium began. It resumed in the middle of January. It's about half finished and it looks great so far. They still have to put in new tables, chairs, and carpet and they have to finish painting. Hopefully the auditorium won't get trashed. Two years ago they renovated the lavatories and they were trashed.
Got our English hallway back today. The teacher was trembling. She was just so pleased to have a place to PUT something. Sadly, a great deal of the construction seems to be unfinished, and we are still without floor tiles or ceilings. A small matter when compared to the vast gaps between the walls and ceilings through which one can clearly hear every exhausted exhalation of every bored student in every classroom on the hall. This and the everpresent clanking and bellowing of constant rennovation in the near distance.... Me: "SO, HERE WHITMAN IS RETURNING TO THE IDEA OF THE PREVIOUS POEM, EXPRESSING HIS TRANSCENDENTALISM!" Teacher: "HIS ...WHAT?" Me: "TRANSCENDENTALISM!" Teacher: "WHAT?" Me: "HIS SOCKS! HE'S TALKING ABOUT HIS SOCKS!" Teacher: "WHAT?" Fellow student: "SO, LIKE, WHITMAN WAS GAY, RIGHT?"
Construction has advanced to the next level of doom. The first sections of hallways -- the English halls -- are complete, and they moved onto the next step -- the social studies corridor. What does this mean for teachers and students? More headaches! Headaches from an array of pungent odors. Headaches from confused students roaming the halls. Headaches from the cave-like echoing condition, the lack of ceiling and floor tiles. You get the gist. The classrooms themselves do look a tad bit different. The heaters and other hardware were painted a gray- bluish slate color. New windows were installed. Electrical outlets were added. Teachers were assigned new rooming buddies. And schedules have been adjusted. Construction obviously is inconvenient, but it has become a fact of life. Hopefully, five, 10 years down the road -- when construction is complete -- we'll reflect and see it was all worth it. Okay, so not really, but we can always hope.
There I was in study hall, thinking about how I would kill to be in Reece Witherspoon's position in her new movie, with the slight buzzing from the construction in the background, when all of a sudden my daydreaming was interrupted by a construction worker with a strong accent. --- "Have any of you seen any loose wires around here?" he asked the half-sleeping class. --- "Well, there is a wire hanging from the ceiling by the music hallway," I replied. --- "Oh, that's nothing," he said. "Anyone else? ... OK, thank you." As I tried to go back to daydreaming, I couldn't help thinking to myself: "Since when are wires hanging from the ceiling not a hazard?" Well, there goes this construction again, proving another hazard wrong. And I thought loose wires and asbestos were hazardous. Silly me. Oh well, I wonder when the lunch bell is gonna ring.
So, they opened up the "refinished" hallways. Believe it or not, I was actually expecting to see some improvement! Silly me. I was disappointed to see that some of the floors still had no tiles; there were no new lockers, they were simply painted over; there were no ceilings, only a few tiles scattered here and there to hang light fixtures from. There aren't even WALLS in one of the rooms, only a huge partition to separate the classes. Believe me, it's hard enough to concentrate on what your own teacher is saying without having to listen to someone else's lesson, as well.
Today I was on my way to my science class, which happens to be on the second floor, when I saw a woman going down the hall looking rather lost. I slowed down to see if i could be of any help. Woman: "Excuse me, could you tell me how to get to the other classes on this floor?" Me: "Well, all the connector hallways are closed down, so you have to go all the way down to the basement, across this hall and back up the stairs." Woman: "Huh?" Me:(sigh) "Hold on, I'll walk you there, I know it's confusing."
Italian test. There are no rules. He says there are no rules. You just have to KNOW. An electrical cracking from the PA system" "Um, students and teachers, you may notice some smoking in the area of room 127. We've just asked them to stop welding and we will properly vent the area. No need for concern." Next to me, the blonde in the Grateful Dead t-shirt halts her struggle with the subject/verb agreement long enough to grumble. She: "Yeah, sure. It's chemical. I was there, man. It was all over the place. 'Properly vent the area?' Nobody gives a damn." Italian teacher: "In Italian, Gina." Me: "I do. I give a damn. There are damns to be given." Teacher: "In Italiano, Guissepe." She: "Well, what are you going to do about it?" Teacher: "In Italiano, Gina." Me (to teacher): "How do you say 'hold my breath and weep' in Italiano?"
Eastern is beginning to resemble a mythical futuristic technology hall. The echoes, tracks of metal segments running along the ceiling with small yellow caged lights peeking in between, sounds of drills and rolling carts from above and yellow warning bands scattered across the school all add to the ambiance. It's almost like spending your day in an abandoned sewer or underground passageway. It's rather scary, actually. But, c'est la vie. It's our reality.
"Students should prepare themselves for the temperatures throughout the building." This has been Eastern's thematic statement for the year. But how are we suppose to prepare, when the temperature of each section of the school is a constant unpredictable mystery? Even more boggling is the fact that the last couple of days, teachers have had to open windows to let heat into the school. Further, any effort made to raise temperatures are affected mainly by massive gangs of teachers and students whining to administration. I just pray for springtime conditions bringing more amiable conditions.
Nearly eight months since construction started and the third section of hallways are expected to be remodeled sometime during spring vacation. This means schedule changes and new locker assignments. I'm kind of use to it by now, though, since my study hall room has changed about four times in the last month.
An open letter: Dear Contractors, I'll admit, we were skeptical. We thought we might never get our chemistry lab back from you hard-hat toting construction types. Heck, we decided way back in November, when you extended the December 1st return date a month, that it looked a little hopeless. And then when you said it would be after February break, we had to wonder. And of course, your lackof consistency did trouble us a bit when you aimed for April. But boy were we surprised when the last week in April hit and you called "Phase 1" of our nine phase process complete with a capitol "C". Wow. I have to tell you, other kids still have doubts. But we're not worried. So what if our chemistry lad has no running water? Who cares that the counters don't have tops, and there aren't chairs to sit on? And it doesn't even bother us that all you've appeared to have done is paint the walls a brighter shade of white! We love it! Thanks so much for our chemistry lab. The waiting was (and still is) worth it.
While taking a quiz on The Great Gatsby in English class, in the new hallway, what do we hear over our teacher's voice? The voices of freshmen girls next door, arguing over who's the cutest boy. Oh, now they've quieted down, but we hear the theme song of "Dirty Dancing." I don't know what kind of modern, state-of- the-art walls we've got now, but I can hear more than before the renovations.
When I sat down to take the very important U.S. History Advanced Placement exam (which, if I do well, could save me money and time in college) at my assigned seat next to the window, I saw the light. But this was a bad light. The sun shone in my eyes, as well as everybody else in my row for the almost 4 hours of this rigorous exam. I wonder how many schools in the nation where students took this exam that morning took it in a room full of windows with no blinds? Someone should have taken the responsibility to at least tack up some bed sheets like some of our teachers are forced to do. With the millions spent on renovations, why can't we spend mere hundreds on blinds for a better learning environment? On top of that, there were a couple of false fire alarms (from the construction workers, probably) while we were finishing the test.
On the way to lunch: ME: "Do you smell that?" SHE: "It's not me." ME: "I didn't say it was you." SHE: "Good. Because it isn't." ME: "Well what is it?" SHE: "I don’t know. It's ... fishy." ME: "Do you think it's a conspiracy? SHE: "No ... fishy. Like mackerel or bass. Really fishy." ME: "Who's on first?" SHE: "I hope it isn't lunch." ME: "It can't be." SHE: "It could be. Sure it could. Why not?" ME: "Processed meat doesn't swim." SHE: "You've never looked closely, have you?" ME: "Stop this. Stop this now." I'm not sure how it's possible, or why it's happened, but somehow the leaking roofs and ceilings have filled the halls with a faintly fishy smell. Not peculiar --literally fishy. It's like an open air market, the wet insulation hanging from the exposed walls of the corridors and puddles swelling outside my English class. It's really sort of distressing. But it's not the food.