Computer labs face change, conversions

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Much of the newly proposed science wing. Photo by Asa Lory

Ashleigh Atasoy

Computer lab
Photo by Asa Lory
Beginning next school year, RBHS will face the deconstruction of three different computer labs. The Gold, Green and Math labs will all be converted into classrooms to host RBHS’ first freshman class. To replace the desktops, the schools will use netbooks for the students to utilize. But despite the anticipation of the new class, math teacher Kevin Taylor is not excited about the new changes. Teaching in a classroom that was previously beside the former Math Lab, Taylor frequented the lab with his students, in hopes of approaching the traditional material through a modern medium.
 “I teach statistics … and about half my class would be in the lab, so I’ve been struggling to find adequate space for my statistics activities,” Taylor said. “Also, I used the lab a lot for pre-calculus, and hunting down laptops [and] checking them out have been tough for me to manage my class time and accessing technology.”
Amidst the process of renovation, the space previously taken up by the former Math Lab will soon be converted into several more math classrooms in preparation for next year. But while the Math Lab may have been a classroom staple for Taylor, the Gold and Green Labs have been the resource that the majority of RBHS students use. Despite their popularity, the two labs are becoming physics classrooms for incoming freshmen. Science department chair Melissa Wessel was heavily involved in the decision to convert the Gold and Green labs into physics classrooms and has analyzed the possible effects of having specific physics classrooms.
It’s “safer if you use [a] room for only one type of class because then you have less overall lab setups.” Wessel said. “If I was sharing this room with my Honors Anatomy kids and AP Chemistry and AP Bio, imagine all the stuff that would be out that we could possibly knock over and spill and accidentally mess with. And so, some of it’s a safety issue, and some of it is, our enrollment is higher, plus the physics teachers are coming with a lot of physics supplies. I mean, even if they didn’t give us one of those rooms as a classroom, they probably would have had to give it to us for a closet, to turn it into storage space.
But a new RBHS class isn’t the only major hallmark being set for the school. With a record-breaking enrollment of over 2,000 students in the next year alone, RBHS will become one of the largest schools in the state. With so many students, some think that the need for physical, desktop-based technological devices will be at an all-time high.
“I think with the netbooks and the iPads, there are a lot [of] distractions. There are cameras and apps that people just use to goof off and not do what they’re supposed to do,” senior Duyen Tran said. “It is [also] really hard to type, and students are not going to get as much done as they would on a desktop. Because [on] a desktop, there’s limited things you can do … I think that’s just a disadvantage.”
Though the renovation of the three computer labs will inevitably reduce the number of devices available to students, ultimately, the effects of this decision won’t become a reality until this coming August. Until then, RBHS can only wait for what is unavoidably sure to be a watershed school year
“We have an outstanding population coming in next year,” Taylor said. “We’re going to be peaked for 2,000 kids. How can we balance [an] equitable access for space to work [with] this impeccable access to technology? And my hope is that we can find a way.”
By Ashleigh Atasoy