By Mike Smale, Current Staff
There’s an oasis of green in the middle of the high school, yet many students don’t even know that it exists.
“We have a courtyard?,” said Ryan Schuppie, East senior.
The school courtyard, which is surrounded by the school on all four sides, has been an abandoned place for several years. Soon, however, the courtyard will begin to see life again.
The special education department is teaming up with the WORKS program to build garden boxes in the courtyard. The 3-by-3-by-10-foot boxes will be built by Gerald Sorce’s wood shop classes. Administration approached Sorce and explained that the previous gardens used by the special ed department, located near the south parking lot, were plowed under during construction. Therefore, a new garden was needed.
“I think it’s great that kids would be able to get out there,” Sorce said.
Assistant principal Dave Uelmen is also a proponent of the idea. “For the handicapped students, they’ll be able to wheel up and work a lot easier,” he said. Uelmen believes that, with a little activity happening, the idea of a utilized courtyard could catch on.
“Kids will start to look outside and see the yard being used, and maybe kids will think ‘hey, why can’t I be out there’,” Uelmen said.
In terms of future plans of making the courtyard a public place, Uelmen said administration is all ears. “Kids need some fresh air and sunlight this time of year, and especially some movement,” he said.
Administration will be discussing possible uses of the courtyard with senior class representatives and hearing student input. “What would [students] want the yard to be like? A senior privilege? An upperclassman privilege?,” Uelman said.
Several issues will have to be addressed as well. Discrepancy between East and West would arise if the courtyard opens, thanks to the school’s hallway set-up. Currently, the East cafeteria has a direct exit to the courtyard, while West does not. For West students to exit, they would have to walk around and use the math hall exit.
“I’m nervous sound could be an issue with the students walking in the math hallway,” Uelmen said.
Also, supervision in the courtyard would need to be addressed. Teachers or aides would need to be in the yard during lunch and off hours, but the positions may be difficult to fill. “We’re tight on supervision as it is,” Uelmen said.
“What would the yard be like? A senior privilege? An upperclassman privilege?”
– Dave Uelmen, assistant principal
Many students find the idea of using the outdoor space appealing. “Why do we have it if it’s not open? We could use it during class or lunch,” said Katie Opgenorth, East junior. “Maybe people might screw around if it’s open, but not much harm can be done; it’s just grass.”
Schuppie agrees. “I think it would be cool to have a chance to go into [the courtyard]. Maybe classes could go out there in the spring,” he said.
Historically, the courtyard has been an active place. When the school was initially built, the courtyard was more of a U-shaped area. Before the math hall was built in the mid-1990s, the yard was open facing towards Decorah Road. Students would go out there and eat lunch, soak up the sun, and even have a smoke.
“The courtyard used to be the smoking pit,” Uelmen said.
In the early 2000s the yard was abandoned, but several attempts have been made to do something with the space. Paul DeLain, West science teacher and SEED supervisor, said that a couple of years ago SEED cleaned up the courtyard and made improvements. “We pulled out bushes, weeds, planted flowers, and put in bird feeders. However, the recent construction to the offices ended up burying it,” DeLain said.
If students would like to voice their opinion about the courtyard’s possible future, they are asked to contact Mr. Uelmen or Mr. Schlass in the main office.
(Photographs by Mike Smale, Current Staff.)