In the meantime

Overcrowding poses more issues before the new high school is finished being built


Kate Lichter

English teacher Sarah Moore checks student’s assignments from the online Culture Clash course. Moore is able to communicate with students through showbie, moodle and email for feedback and discussion.

Kate Lichter, Staff Writer

Walking through the halls, the first thing the eye notices is the mass amount of people. The halls act like roadways. Sadly, it can wreak havoc including traffic jams, people swerving and others moving so slow that your head wants to explode.

When walking into a classroom, it would be expected to act as the destination. Calm, collected yet still subtly busy, however what you run into is a full classroom with maybe one open seat when everyone is in class.

Junior Danielle Hanson found that her classes have grown, not to the point where it affects her grades, but impairs her ability to concentrate on what is happening in the class. She also noticed that student and teacher relationships have weakened, but still know names even with the mass amount of students. “They [teachers] get to know the class as a collective group but not the individual person,” Hanson said.

But this overcrowded problem cannot be solved quickly, partially due to the large debt that the district has accumulated throughout the years and set back of the construction of the new high school.

Now free space will not appear out of thin air for extra classrooms, because that is just witchcraft, but maybe using rooms that are not being used by teachers for other classes could solve the trick. Or maybe even adding portables, even though they are an atrocious brown color it would be rather effective at bringing attention to the issue because, well let’s face it, they would ruin the “Johnston image.”

Solutions have been sought out by multiple people, some plans have even been taken into action this past semester when English classes were stuffed to the brim. After being approached about creating an alternative for seniors who need another English credit to graduate, English teacher Sarah Moore worked on an online version of Culture Clash for students.

“This turned out to be a quick fix for the semester, we decided we would offer it at twelve thirty on Tuesday before we went to break,” Moore said. For now the program holds 12 students but Moore would like to expand the online programs for other expanding classes. She thinks the discussions held through the screen are going well but relationships are still hit hard.

“You don’t get the relationships built that you have with a student, I don’t feel like I know them as well as I would like to,” Moore said. “But that’s part of the fact that you can’t see them.”

After finding out Advanced Speech was not for her, senior Krysta Johnson became one of the 12 involved in the program and is finding success.

“You can work ahead if you get stuff done,” Johnson said. She agrees with Moore’s opinion that the online courses should expand to other class types, but mainly other English classes or social studies. However, Johnson still sees a teacher and student relationship can form through the screen.

“She emails us a lot and we can email her with any questions,” Johnson said. “And she still gives us feedback.”

Even though online classes could shrink class size, a traditional classroom still would be the most ideal. Being able to speak with a teacher to build a relationship worth while for building a ‘friendship’ and gaining speaking skills off the screen.

Sure technology is going to be extremely involved in the workplace but I would not like to be the person passing out or throwing up before I have to make a speech in front of my colleagues.

For now it seems the school’s main goal is to utilize all space in the building to give students maximum class selection and instruction.

“When classes aren’t being used by the teacher that’s typically in that classroom, other classes are going in on top of that,” Principal Brent Riessen said. Study halls in the cafeteria have also been popping up, something he has not seen before in the school. Though there are study halls in the cafeteria, don’t expect to be in the commons for a class period any time soon.

This tactic will work for now, the possibility of adding more early or late bird classes to the schedule could potentially lessen the overcrowding problem in the future. Since I love coming to school so much already, starting earlier or staying later is definitely a tempting option.

“Instead of 1,500 kids having to be there you can spread that out a little bit,” Superintendent Corey Lunn said. He and Riessen have discussed this option along with others on how to work out the overcrowded transition between the old and new high school.

The two have also discussed utilizing the extra portables on the side of the middle school for high school courses that need the room. This way the empty portables that are ignored and spawning cobwebs this year will actually be put to use. However, walking down the stairs from the journalism room down to the math wing is already enough cardio for one day, so walking through the moody Iowa weather to get to class holds no appeal.

While we wish rooms could magically grow, the class size of 27 students will continue to grow, keeping students cozy in the hallways and packed like sardines in classrooms.