By Kayla Lemens, Current Staff
A new lounge at the West Bend High Schools has created new opportunities for students and, according to some staff members, new headaches.
Situated on the second floor near the entrance of the recently renovated library, the common space is available to students during their time in the library and also passing times between class periods. With its open concept, cushioned benches, warm lighting fixtures and large TV, the lounge has proven to be a popular spot for students to hang out, study or gather in large groups.
East junior Lauren McCormack uses this new space every day.
“I think it’s a really good addition, and a needed one, because before there weren’t many workspaces to work in for study halls or off hours besides a classroom,” McCormack said. “But now there’s a space I can be productive in that’s not in a regular classroom.”
Staff members at WBHS agree that the concept of the lounge will benefit students attending the high school.
“This new space provides many opportunities for our school and our students,” West English teacher Danielle Schumacher said. “It can be a space where students gather in small groups, work independently or just relax. The new furniture and space makes students excited and proud because of how nice it looks.”
“The kids like the spot,” district librarian Kim Christiansen said. “It’s why they congregate there.”
The lounge space was designed to be open to students throughout the school day, but some students are beginning to abuse the space.
Kids have been piling into the space, sometimes making it near impossible to walk through that part of the hallway. The noise gets very loud during passing periods, and is causing distractions to the nearby students who are trying to learn.
Schumacher has the closest classroom to the lounge. She has been experiencing the effects of the lounge’s popularity.
“The volume can become quite loud with inappropriate language, distracting students in my classroom and likely other rooms as well,” Schumacher said. “Unfortunately, it seems that many students are abusing this new space, taking advantage of the adults that trusted them to use it appropriately.”
Lately, Schumacher can be seen outside of her classroom with a megaphone in efforts to control the volume of the area.
The congregations might be a result of the longer passing times, which were expanded to 10 minutes at the beginning of the school year due to COVID-19. The new open space is a new, comfortable place to gather, and students have a few extra minutes to socialize.
“Moving forward, I would love to see more supervision of the area,” Schumacher said. “I would love to see students behaving in a respectful and safe manner, complying with the student behavior guidelines and expectations of West Bend East and West High Schools, including pandemic expectations, and showing more empathy and respect not only to each other, but to all adults in the building.”
With the rising noise levels, administration is asking more staff to supervise the area. The lack of staff available is ultimately leading to the lounge having set hours.
“The library patrols are for kids to be in the library rather than in the lounge to be supervised. There are just not enough aides to watch the space,” Christiansen said.
Due to this lack of supervision, administration announced March 8 that the lounge would be closed during lunch and class periods.
Recently, a TV started presenting the rules of the lounge to inspire students to respect this new area.
Despite the challenges, the new lounge has been attracting a diverse group of students to the renovated library, proving to be a great work and study space when it’s not overcrowded.
“My favorite thing is seeing kids waiting after school studying in the lounge before a practice,” Christiansen said.
West junior Jack Steele likes how the new space has a positive atmosphere.
“I like the lounge,” Steele said. “I have been using it occasionally, but it is very difficult to navigate sometimes. It is always packed, and can be noisy from time to time, but I love the openness it brings to our drab high school.”
(Photos by Kayla Lemens, Current Staff.)