Opinion: It’s Time for a Face Lift
by Thomas Falcucci
Let me just set the scene: The sun is shining. As we approach the school we circle around an island. The island is the first thing to welcome us with its green well-kept vegetation, its thoughtfully placed floral arrangements that encompass two bushes, and its school sign that’s small enough not to draw attention away from the vegetation and yet legible enough to show you that you’re not lost. The bus comes to a stop. We step off and walk toward a school that not only is constructed as a home for learning but also to please the eye. As we enter the doors open with ease leading us to the main foyer. Each tile glimmers white with the light from the windows that cover all the walls. Ahead lays a hallway with students art covering the walls. The myriad of colors from the photographs, paintings, and whatever other praiseworthy pieces of art, are alluring. Students stroll orderly through the halls in a pleasant din, leaving their backpacks outside the class before they walk past their teacher who greets them at the door with a smile. We move down the left hallway toward two doors; our path illuminated by lights that morph into the ceiling unseen. Through the two doors, lay an auditorium with state of the art lighting and sound equipment above a stage that faces the three hundred seats. We sit down in seats that form around us as if we were on our own personal cloud, making the desire to watch a performance that much greater. A man takes the stage, walking towards the microphone that awaits him at the front of the stage. He greats us: “Welcome to Manchester-Essex High School.”
Scene Two: The sun is blocked by the immense shadow of the building that lay ahead. We circle around the island that sits in front of the school. The island is full of trees that are nearly bare of leaves all year round. The only other vegetation is the dying leaves that await decomposition on the ground or the thorns and poison ivy that spread throughout like a disease. Where there isn’t the vegetation there is dirt or rocks partially covered in moss. The bus stops. We leave the bus behind and walk toward a school that seems to resemble a prison with its off-white paint covering its cement skeleton. After trying several doors and finally being let in with an annoying beep, we enter the doors leading us to the lobby. Each tile is lusterless and seems to be grouted with 70 years’ worth of whatever remained on the bottom of students’ shoes. Ahead lay a staircase with the schools name and mascot painted onto the wood grained cement. To the left is a “security booth” that appears to be constructed of wood and other materials that will do anything but provide security. Students hurry through the halls in a mixture of the sound of lockers slamming and people screeching at one another, pushing through a huddle of students before they walk past their teacher who attempts to greet them. The bell rings and the students quiet down, leaving only the irritating hum of the flickering lights for the teacher to speak over. After finally finding a maker that works, the teacher writes today’s lesson plan on the white-board: “BHS P.R.I.D.E.”
I recognize that the school is a standing memory of the past for its alumnus, but it ruins the current generation’s memories. I don’t want to think back to high school and have to remember the leaking ceilings that prevented me from using my locker during the rainy days or the gum infested desks that no one dares to put a hand in. While I understand a new school costs money that we don’t necessarily have access to, I’m not requesting a new school, just updates; technology that actually works to further our understanding of the world around us; minor changes to make the school less intimidating and more welcoming. BHS’s motto is P.R.I.D.E and yet the appearance of the school makes it hard to be proud of. There is no difference between students from Manchester-Essex and Braintree, so why should the schools be so different?