Joe Knows: Addressing recommendation for renovation

Joe Pohoryles
editor-in-chief

Joe,

I recently attended the Board of Education meeting to advocate for the county’s renovation funds to go to Wootton, since we need it badly. Ever since the planned renovation set to take place in the summer of 2019 was postponed indefinitely, people all around the school have been clamoring to get us back into consideration for renovation. It appears the Board is instead placing their attention towards expanding John F. Kennedy High School as well as eventually opening a new high school in Gaithersburg. I understand the world doesn’t revolve around us, but I feel like we should be receiving more attention.

What should we as a school do to convince them that we deserve the renovation?

-Rusty

I’m glad you brought this up to me. Anyone I’ve spoken to personally about the condition of the school has the same general complaints: “run-down,” “disgusting,” or explicit-laden phrases I’m not allowed to print. It’s clear there’s a strong backing for this renovation. Now, this is no slight to the school’s maintenance staff; I believe the work they do here goes largely unappreciated, and it takes a lot of work to keep a building in shape for over 2,000 students and 100 plus faculty members on daily basis.

The fact is simply that a building that’s been functioning as a high school nine months out of the year — for almost half a century — is bound for some wear and tear, and the consensus opinion is that we’re long overdue for a change.

But honestly, the more that I think about it, the more I believe we’re just fine and don’t need a renovation of any kind. We are consistently listed among the top high schools in the state, not because of our building, but because of our success and grit. What do you think makes us so gritty?

I’ve been in a bathroom stall with a broken pencil serving as the lock, the door almost off its hinges — surrounded by penciled graffiti, drawings of genitalia and the occasional swastika — just praying some unassuming potty-goer won’t bust the door open. The anxiety in those moments trumps anything we face in class. I haven’t felt nervous before a test in years, and I have our restrooms to thank for that.

A large portion of the complaints stem from the portables, but the strength it takes to stroll outside in December morning weather, just to get to a classroom with cardboard insulation and walls made with the same type of felt on pool tables is what defines our student body. Nothing says “higher quality learning” like walking into a corrugated shed.

The school’s aesthetic screams grit as well. The brown splotches on the ceiling and the strong stench of chemical supplies and bleach in the cafeteria represent our humble establishment. Richard Montgomery has lampposts in its hallways. Literal lampposts… those pansies.

The reality of the situation is that despite the building’s conditions, we’re doing just fine, even thriving, so the county isn’t going to spend money where they don’t think an issue is present. We’re like a child being neglected at home. The only way to receive the renovation fund — which we certainly don’t need — is to act up and get in trouble or start failing our classes so we can receive at least some kind of attention.

Drop your APs, tank your grades, start brawling in the Commons. The sooner we sink to the level of a school in need of “fixing,” the sooner the Board will prioritize our school for renovation. Sad it has to come to this, but I don’t see any other options.

The ball is in your court, Dr. Jack Smith, just don’t slip on our gym floor.

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