ALPHA students shoved aside for new computer lab

Alex Entz/Senior Writer

Last year, the ALPHA room was the place to be. Every day, no matter what hour you walked by, the room was teeming with people of all ages. The ALPHA students crowded around the long middle table, playing games, doing homework and working on their independent projects.

Then, the ALPHA room got moved.

Today, the tiny storage closet now serving as an ALPHA “classroom” (though perhaps cupboard would be the more appropriate term) wouldn’t come close to fitting the central table that adorned the old ALPHA room. Today, that little room has been so cramped by all of the comforts from the old ALPHA room (from the ubiquitous cabinet to the infamous quote board) that it’s hard to turn around without knocking into another person. The room for the “talented and gifted program” … moved? For what?

For a computer lab that typically houses anywhere from three to a whopping seven students. Seven students! As opposed to the 20 ALPHA students that used to occupy the room, it’s utterly incomprehensible.

The “Learning Lab” has a singular stated use. “It’s a help center for math, where students can also get help with online curriculum,” school principal Dr. Powers said. “The Learning Lab helps kids graduate on time.” While I’m not saying that I’m against graduation rates, shouldn’t the school place more emphasis on the development of the top of the class? Colleges often tell high schools that their incoming freshmen aren’t ready for college; perhaps part of this conundrum stems from the overemphasis on those struggling to graduate and a lack of emphasis on the college-bound.

Perhaps this whole situation came into being partly because this school has an unexplainable penchant for turning existing rooms into yet another computer lab. The school added roughly 70 computers last year, “forcing” the tiny Learning Lab to be moved from its original position adjacent to the library to its current location. After adding 70 computers, why does the school still need such a pitifully, abysmally small lab? It would be a common line of thinking that, after adding 70 computers, a school could cut down on its extraneous and outdated computer usage.

“Teachers struggle with computer needs and facilities,” Powers noted. If a teacher cannot find a lab after going through the existing labs plus an extra 70 computers, it seems unreasonable that an additional seven computers could help them out. Classes cannot use the room because the small number of computers would leave most of the class without one, and for study hall students, the library is already open for use replete with computers of its own. A seemingly simpler idea would be to outfit the new ALPHA closet with three or four of those computers, instead of relocating the institution that ALPHA has become.

“We needed to create more computer access,” Powers said. While I certainly agree that computer usage is hugely important in a modern society, it again seems odd that uprooting a fabled part of CFHS lore to make way for such a goal would have much to do to contribute to that end.
The administration needs to take a note: pushing the smart kids off to a corner is completely counter-intuitive. Why hide the best at the school in a small area that obviously cannot hold nearly what it could hold last year? Schools are supposed to encourage the development of bright students, not sweep them under the rug in a tiny room while a few computers occupy an otherwise blank room. Couple this with the sudden and inexplicable termination of the Renaissance program, which was designed to reward high-achieving students, and a pattern seems to emerge. The talented are being slowly stripped of their rewards, with no explanation given.

In a school being dramatically changed by new policies addressing everything from release to nutrition, the administration has managed to do nothing about the things that overachievers care about. In fact, policies, as seen in the above two examples, are hurting those students, the ones that the school should be promoting.

Not that it is all bad. Dr. Powers has been hard at work ensuring that the new room retains as many of the comforts of the old room as possible, even going so far as to purchase a large-screen television for the room, and looking hard at the situation to figure out an alternative. And while the ALPHA room experience may have faded, it’s important to note that the location was compromised to keep it on the first floor, allowing students to keep their all-important cubbies while still being centrally located.

Dr. Powers acknowledges that there will be winners and losers no matter what course of action he takes, largely because our school is so cramped for space. “It’s not a resting place, it’s a Band-Aid,” Powers said of the situation.

Call it my opinion, but I think a bigger Band-Aid might be needed.

Class of 2014

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