New year, new portables: classrooms added to meet needs of growing population

External classrooms present an array of challenges and advantages as the new school year begins

Keely Carolan, Copy Editor
Originally published October 15, 2018

Keely CarolanPortables on the first floor, on the East side of the building.

Keely Carolan

Portables on the first floor, on the East side of the building.

Four new classrooms have been added to the cluster of portables next to the field since the end of last school year to cope with the ever-growing student population. Most of the tables that students use during the warmer months were removed to make room for the new mini-buildings. 

A number of classes and teachers have been moved outside the main school building as the community awaits the re-opening of Lincoln High School next year. It is yet to be determined how many students will be relocated once the school opens.

Many students complain about the portables–having to brave the weather, travel long distances to the bathroom during class, rush to make it on time when their first period is practically on the field and their third is on the opposite end of the school in the science pod. But it’s a well-known fact that high school students will complain about anything and everything, so it’s hard to say for certain that the portables have caused any tangible issues. 

For math teacher Jan Drabek, the portables haven’t brought many changes: “I would say it’s the same when you get down to it, I mean it’s four walls and a ceiling…But there are environmental things that are definitely different. Like if you look at all of our furniture, it’s all brand new, and it’s really nice. It allows us to flexibly set up the desks, people fit into the desks fine, it’s easy to make more space. You can put [the tables] in rows, in groups, if you want to do a socratic seminar you can easily do that,” Drabek said. This is the second year that Drabek has had his classroom stationed in a portable, which he has chosen to do this year to give his newer colleagues the ability to engage with their coworkers in the pod. 

One problem that classes in the portables have is the limited technology. Drabek says that they didn’t get internet until the first week of October: “The same thing happened last year, and it was difficult. I’ve been holding class in the commons when we need to use computers.”

A common practice which arose last year once the school added portables was putting new teachers in those classrooms. New language arts teacher Harpreet Parhar (who worked at Washington Middle School last year) is one of those people.

“I don’t necessarily see my coworkers that often which can feel very isolating. The whole day you’re working with students and to have someone to be able to debrief with in the same space as you is nice– having that peer connection,” Parhar said. “It’s kind of inhibited my ability to become close to my peers and build relationships with other adults in the building.”

Isolation isn’t always a bad thing though. “I can park out here on the street and just walk to my portable in the morning. You don’t get that anxiety in the morning because it’s just quiet out here. Once the bell rings people start trickling in, but no one’s really hanging out, there’s not as much hustle and bustle inside of the building. So that’s been a positive for sure,” said Parhar.

Drabek doesn’t mind the isolation so much either. “Sometimes I like the isolation. When you’re in the halls there’s sometimes a lot of traffic around you, people come and go. Sometimes being isolated is nice when you want to get things done and just focus on your class,” he said.

Whether we like it or not, portables are an inevitable reality of our school, and we all have to learn to live with it for now.