EAST WENATCHEE — Eastmont High School students have other things to gripe about than the quarter-mile run between buildings during class changes.
Like the blistering heat and lack of air conditioning at what is this year known as EHS-South.
EHS-South is the real Eastmont High School. It’s under major construction this year so high school students are attending some classes there in classrooms and the gym where construction has been finished.
Most classes are held at Sterling Intermediate School — EHS-North — a quarter-mile to the north and across 5th Street Northeast. Sterling underwent a remodel last year. Middle school students won’t get a chance to enjoy the facelifted school until next year when the high school remodel is completed. They’ve been shifted to Clovis Intermediate School and various Eastmont School District elementary schools.
“It’s too hot over here and too cold in the portables over there where the air conditioning is working too well,” said Kelly Strang, an Eastmont junior.
Bianca Cruz-Lopez, a senior, was heading the other way, from EHS-North to EHS-South for a physics class. Both girls, like most students and teachers Thursday, wore anti-bullying T-shirts to kick off a year-long campaign to curb harassment between students.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Cruz-Lopez said about the long walk between classes. “We have enough time and it’s good exercise. It’s like what we’ll have to do when we go to college.”
High school students will be trekking back and forth all this school year between EHS-North and EHS-South. Science, early childhood education and PE classes are held at EHS-South. All other classes are at EHS-North. Depending on their individual class schedules, some students will make the trip several times a day. Some only once. A few, not at all, said Mark Marney, district director of secondary education. The time between classes has been increased from 6 to 10 minutes because of the distance between the two schools.
“The kids are doing well with it,” Marney said. The bigger problem and one that both kids and teachers have complained about is lack of air conditioning at the EHS-South. And a heat wave that is driving temperatures into the upper 90s this week.
“If there’s any complaints, it’s the heat in the classrooms. The kids are enjoying getting outside, but it’s no fun to go back into a hot classroom,” he said.
Fans are going full tilt, but students will have to endure possible steamy classrooms while demolition continues, Marney said. Construction crews hope to get air conditioning systems going by Sept. 20. The National Weather Service is forecasting cooler weather next week with highs in the 70s.
Marney said construction has caused inconveniences, but students are safe. A fenced, concrete walkway links the schools with a new stairway up the hill to Sterling. Crosswalk guards direct traffic across 5th Street NE during class breaks. Students who are handicapped, on crutches or who have other injuries, like Kelly Strang, are transported between classes by van. At least most of the time.
Strang sprained her ankle in cross-country run practice and was usually able to catch a ride between schools. She missed the shuttle from her only class at EHS-South Thursday morning.
“This is not so bad, but I think during the winter it will be a little more stressful,” she said about the walk as she gingerly headed up the hill.
High school construction will be completed and students back where they belong by September 2014.