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Beyond the Cave

Beyond the Cave

Why Do We Still Have the Portables?

Leaks, pesty animals, mold, and a certain stench permeate the portables — a plan is now in place to replace both the 400 and 600 wings.
Peyton Skinner
The portables in the 400 wing have been in place since the 1980s and have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. From leaks due to the flat roof to relentless animals, the portables can come with some complications. According to senior Hailey Tuggle, “They’re ghetto.”

The portables. You know, those old classrooms in the 400 and 600 wings. Are they due for a renovation or replacement? How old are they? What are some teachers and students’ thoughts on these temporary classrooms? Beyond the Cave looked into some of these answers.
To start: yes, there is a plan being developed to demolish and replace the portables, especially those in the 400 wing, which are older than the rest.
Mr. Merrill shared some details about the history of the portables and the plan to replace them.
“They were purchased, those in the 400 wing, in the 1980s, and they’ve already been modernized after 25 years. They’re up for another modernization, but the buildings are in such bad shape we want to replace them.”
When asked about the design for the replacement building, Mr. Merrill explained that it will have a sloped roof to protect from snow and water damage and will generally follow a simple design.
“They’re what I call chalk-and-talk classrooms, they’re not gonna have sinks and running water, but there will be new restrooms. The 400 wing will have the five replacement classrooms, and then restroom structure, all under one single roof that’s gonna be tilted so the snow would run on the back side instead of being totally flat, which is scary.”

“They’re what I call chalk-and-talk classrooms, they’re not gonna have sinks and running water, but there will be new restrooms. The 400 wing will have the five replacement classrooms, and then restroom structure, all under one single roof that’s gonna be tilted so the snow would run on the back side instead of being totally flat, which is scary.”

— Superintendent Merrill

He shared that the goal for the project is to finish much of it during summer break, but that if it is continuing during the school year, teachers may have to move to empty classrooms or share classrooms with each other.
Mr. Merrill also shared the motives for replacing the portables.
“They’re not as nice as some of the other buildings and we want you guys to have better facilities and our staff to have better facilities to teach in.”
The plan to replace the portables is headed by a committee which has been working on the design and layout of the portables. Members of the committee include Ms. Gissler and other staff members.
Some of the portables definitely have their own unique aspects. For instance, animals are a frequent problem in some of the classrooms.
In Ms. Gissler’s room, a possum or skunk chewed a soft spot in the floor.
“There’s one spot, here, where it’s really soft…I think it’s just the carpet holding us there.”
In some classrooms, issues with animals could make teaching more difficult at times.
“There was something dead, under here, I don’t know when…It smelled so bad, it was horrific. I haven’t had any live animals in here, but that dead animal, whatever it was, kudos to the maintenance guys, I love them. They got it out so it wasn’t here for days and days on end, so that was great, but it was something dead underneath and it smelled horrible. Horrible horrible.”
Mr. Patey, in particular, has had an ongoing feud with the woodpeckers that have taken up residence in his former classroom (now Mr. Atkins’ room) since he has taught at Summerville.
“The woodpecker and I have been nemesis since the first year I was here, where I’ll talk and then you hear: [hitting on the desk], and then you hear: [hitting the desk with both knuckles] and then you hear [knocking on the desk continues]. And it just keeps going, and it’s like they’re doing a chorus, and so I’d have kids bang on the walls and be the wall bangers, or I’d have to go outside and wave a wand and that scares them off.”
Mr. Atkins also noted the woodpecker in his interview with BTC, as well as the lighting in the classrooms:
“Other than the relentless woodpecker attacking…so far, just…the fluorescent lighting I would love someday for all classrooms not to have.”
When asked about leaks, multiple teachers reported that leaks would occur, particularly during holidays. Some teachers had not experienced leaks in the past, but with the heavy rains last year there was an increase in the amount and severity of leaks in teachers’ classrooms, particularly in the portables.
Ms. Gissler shared that, “The leaks are really bad, especially over holiday breaks, because nobody’s here to take care of them and then you have the heater blowing for a week or two over Christmas break and you come back and it’s a mold spore ground.”
Hailey Tuggle, senior, voiced her opinion on the portables.
She said, “They have a lot of leaks and they kind of smell bad.”
Despite what seems to be a large number of issues with the portables, there were also upsides to them. Mr. Patey voiced that he liked the added space in the portable, and Mr. Johnson was thankful to have a piano lab.
When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of the portables, Mr. Johnson replied, “Just the distance between the two different teaching spaces. It would be nice if all the arts and choir were down in the same area, and it’s just the way that it was set up, but I’m fortunate that we actually do have a piano lab.”
Ms. Talavera also voiced an appreciation for some aspects of the portables.
“I was in a classroom, in my previous school, that had no windows and no doors to the outside. So it’s definitely better than that, right?”
In general, there seem to be mixed feelings about the portables. There are also still unanswered questions about some aspects of the building process that will need to be addressed before the portables are replaced. Mr. Patey wondered about the funding for the portables.
“They’re gonna have to ask the voters in the area to pay for that?…How are they going to replace those portables, and how much is that going to cost?”
While some things about the portables are still up in the air, Beyond the Cave hopes that the plans for updating and replacing the facilities are successful and timely.

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Leila Stuart, Copy Editor
Peyton Skinner, Photo Editor
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