Sewage smells in the science wing, constant water issues, and a lack of school spirit has these seniors advocating for a new school; even if they themselves won't benefit from it.
We have dedicated a lot of ink (and will continue to do so) covering adults discussing the merits or their concerns regarding building a new high school for Bristol Warren, and about the $200 million bond that would enable that to happen.
Despite a disappointingly low turnout from the first community meeting discussing the project on Monday night, a highlight occurred at the end when members of the high school’s senior class leadership team led tours of the building to discuss their day-to-day life in the building.
The tour included some illuminating truths and insight into what learning is like at the existing Mt. Hope High School. Here are a couple of takeaways.
Problems with sewage affect learning
An interview with three of the seniors — Kali Rocha, Bridget Williams, and Sabian Mihalos — revealed one stomach turning reality about life at Mt. Hope: your classes might be upended at any moment due to an overwhelming stench of raw sewage.
The issue stems from old plumbing, which can easily become clogged from waste and debris (such as toilet paper) getting stuck. The resulting fumes waft up drains in sinks, bathrooms, and showers. It gets so bad that classes in the school’s science wing have been forced to relocate multiple times, including as recently as Monday, when Rocha said a science lab that was planned had to be canceled, the lesson plan altered, and the class relocated; usually to either the gym or the auditorium.
“Like today, we all came in ready to do a lab, and then we get completely thrown off and now we’re doing something ahead of time that was meant to be done later,” Rocha said. “It just throws everything off, and I know it must throw off the teachers too, who have their lesson plans laid out for the week.”
“And especially just like walking down the hallways in general, like, it reeks,” added Mihalos. “It smells horrible. You don’t want to walk through that.”
Flooding is an accepted part of the experience
Students agreed quickly that part of learning at Mt. Hope is learning to deal with hallways that are completely flooded due to inundation with water from Silver Creek, which flows directly beneath some of the walkways throughout the school.
Whether it’s from underneath, or from leaky ceiling tiles above, water issues are constant throughout the year, they said.
“Today I was using the bathroom and I look down and there’s just water all around my feet,” said Williams.
Athletic facilities are lacking
Mihalos, a member of the Mt. Hope basketball team, said one of his biggest disappointments is the weight room, which has insufficient and outdated equipment to a degree that teams don’t really utilize it. They would rather opt for organizing team workouts at outside facilities.
“On my team there’s juniors, sophomores, freshmen. We play with them all the time and it’s all about building for the future,” he said. “We might not be at the top right now, but we always want to go higher, and if we could get the facilities and get these guys the right training, they all want it. They just need the motivation.”
Rocha, a member of the track team, talked about how the current track they utilize is too long to be counted towards records and state meets.
“If you do your best time, your best jump or anything like that, it can’t be counted,” she said. “It’s not actually put into the computerized system, it’s all just practice.”
School spirit is low
Unprompted, Mihalos then brought up something that a lot of adults have put forward as a talking point (including in the front page story in today’s paper).
“I don’t know about you guys, but I feel no school spirit in here when I walk in here in the morning,” he said. “We’re not really together.”
His two classmates immediately agreed.
“I feel like this new school would really bring up school spirit,” Williams said. “Both from the school in general, with all the CTE pathways and those classrooms, but also athletics as well.”
They want future students to have it better
Even though these three students will never benefit from a new high school, they all strongly advocated for it because they believe in building a better future for the kids who will come after them.
“I have a little sister in sixth grade, so that’s my driving force. I want her to have the best experience possible,” Rocha said. “I had a great experience here for what it is. But I just know that there's so much more potential that it could have, and it’s just a waste that they’re not maximizing the potential.”
“I don’t have any younger siblings, but I know the new school would create much improved potential for students who are upcoming,” Williams said. “Building up CTE programs and putting resources into those can really benefit their futures.”