Leaky ceilings, cold rooms, hot rooms, faulty lights and odd tasting water. Does any of this sound familiar? It should. This is the state that our very building, West High School, is currently in.
West was built in 1953 as the first high school, originally named Anchorage High School. It was then soon renamed to its current name after East was built in 1962. Damaged in the 1964 earthquake, West was fixed up, but has not undergone any more major renovations, or rebuilding since 1996. Cracks are still seen in the foyer, and what about the rest of the building?
Every year, West goes through thousands of students, staff and visitors, and after so many years, that can have a toll on the building. Every year something else causes problems for the occupants of area. Whether it is a small dilemma or even a big one.
“We’re always going to have that old feeling,” Rick Stone, Principal of West High for eight years stated. “But that doesn’t mean that we have to have bad stuff, or old stuff in our school.” Mr. Stone prefers that the school stay the way it is, and instead of just rebuilding, to simply just renovate. “Does the school need some help? Yes,” He says, lightly smiling. “That’s kind of the downfall.”
“The increase in the number of students here definitely has an impact on the school,” Joe Alward, science teacher of West, says. “Because the layout of the school is set up in a way, that when you have so many people, you get bottlenecks in the hallways. We have a limited amount of classrooms, which is directly related to the 1996 renovations that happened here. These classrooms here use to be standard sized.”
Karen Matthews, who has worked here for 31 years, agrees that the increase of students may have an impact on the building. “And it varies, because each year, I think we have more students, you can tell, the halls are crowded.”
Mr. Joe has worked as a teacher for 23 years, however, he started out as a coach two years before that. At the age of 51, he has quite a history with the building. Not only has he worked here, but he is also a graduate of West High. His parents went here, and not only that, but his grandfather was one of the builders.
“It was only 25 years when I started, and 29 years old when I finished. You know, the lifespan of a building, in this district, is supposed to make it about 40 years. It was well within that range.” He says smiling, recalling memories of his high school years. With a small laugh he continues, “It’s a flat roof building, it’s always had problems with the roof.” The roof leaks after a while can start to affect teaching. “We had a roof failure, where water from the snow on the roof, leaked in, so heavy duty here in the hallway, that water was running down into the science wing. The fire department was called in. We literally had to stop teaching for about the first 20 minutes of class, to clean up the floor. Just so students could be in the building, and not fall down.” Smiling, he jokingly adds, “Not swim to class.”
Mrs. Mathews, when asked how often she hears of a problem in the building, such as the ceilings, let out a chuckle and smiled. “I wouldn’t say falling apart, but if you’re talking about leaks, that happens every year. Break up time, when the snow is melting.”
After graduating and coming back, Mr. Joe noticed there were more problems than just a leaky roof. “I guess some of the more famous breakdowns have been with the swimming pools. The old swimming pool- not the current one. The old one, where the little gym is, had some leaks in the pool, then we had some gas problems at some time,” he says.
The more famous ‘Let’s get this fixed.’ Would be the roofs. On the other hand, when it comes to renovation, or getting rid of something, the math wing and upstairs are also serious.
Either way, this school could really use some fixing up, as long as we keep our traditional look.