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Archive for Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crowding complaints follow freshmen onto Lawrence high school campuses

August 23, 2011

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Free State sophomore Stephen Fulton scans the vastness of the commons area before eventually finding a table of friends during the second lunch period on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 at Free State High School. After adding a class of ninth graders to both high schools, students at both Free State and Lawrence High are facing more crowded lunchrooms and more traffic congestion at the end of the school day.

Free State sophomore Stephen Fulton scans the vastness of the commons area before eventually finding a table of friends during the second lunch period on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 at Free State High School. After adding a class of ninth graders to both high schools, students at both Free State and Lawrence High are facing more crowded lunchrooms and more traffic congestion at the end of the school day.

One group of Lawrence High school students walk through cars dropping off other students Friday, August 19, 2011. With freshman now attending the high schools, traffic is busier at both high schools for dropping off and picking up students who can't drive or don't take the bus.

One group of Lawrence High school students walk through cars dropping off other students Friday, August 19, 2011. With freshman now attending the high schools, traffic is busier at both high schools for dropping off and picking up students who can't drive or don't take the bus.

Nyle Anderson hears plenty of whispers — some louder than others — in the halls of Free State High School.

Freshmen are too small to be here.

Freshmen are too young to be here.

Freshmen are too immature to be here.

He refuses to accept such nonsense, of course, but there is one complaint Anderson can’t help but acknowledge.

There are too many freshmen here.

“It is a big class of freshmen,” the freshman said, sharing a crowded table at lunch with six fellow freshmen. “But it does get annoying after awhile.”

The annoyances of simply being a freshman are proving to be different this year in the Lawrence school district, as such students find themselves at the bottom of the student pecking order instead of ruling what had been their proverbial roosts in junior high schools.

And by simply showing up for school, attending classes, eating lunches and leaving campuses, freshmen are making their collective presence felt among upperclassmen in a few less-than-welcome ways:

• Additional traffic. More freshmen mean more buses and, perhaps even more disruptive, more parents dropping off students before school and picking them up at day’s end. Throw in plenty of roadwork along Sixth Street leading to and from Free State, plus reconstruction of a driveway behind Lawrence High, and it’s no wonder drivers are frustrated.

Kelsey Van Ness, a junior at Free State, thought she was doing well to take back roads into school, but quickly discovered that her delays became even worse because so many others had turned to the same solution — even before they had arrived at the congested campus.

“Freshmen don’t drive, but that means they have to have someone drive them here, so that’s more cars,” Van Ness said.

• Languishing lunches. More tables, revamped operational plans and even additional access points all were put in place to handle the influx of additional students in the cafeterias at the high schools, but such benefits did prove mighty unpopular on day one.

“You’d think 50 percent of the student body would know the drill in the cafeteria? We had 100 percent who didn’t know what to do,” said Matt Brungardt, Lawrence High principal, who figures that early backups were caused by students adding money to their lunch accounts and simply learning where to go and when.

Now the longest wait in line is eight minutes.

“Everybody’s kind of learning the routine,” Brungardt said. “Once everybody gets the routine down, it’ll be a lot better.”

• Hall congestion. Before the schools split back in 1997, Lawrence High had more than 2,200 students — well above the 1,537 on the books as of Tuesday.

Free State, which had 1,072 at this time last year, now has more than 1,500 on campus, thanks in large part to the arrival of 377 freshmen.

“I walk the halls, and I have to stiff arm people,” said Trey Jones, a senior.

School and district administrators chalk up many of such complaints to early-in-the-year uncertainties, the kinds of things expected to be addressed with a few tweaks here and continued orientation sessions and messages there.

Andrew Merritt, a junior at Free State, isn’t all that worried. He’s in school, taking classes and moving along fine, thank you.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “I’ll work with what I have.”

Comments

SarcasmIsALostArt 3 years ago

Really LJWorld? The rest of the country is trying to dial back bullying and you're here promoting it with an assclown bragging to the world that he has to stiff-arm people out of his way?

Bravo! Build up the super-ego of the guy who will be serving me fries after he graduates!

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Jean Robart 3 years ago

doubt it--he's a senior, and they know everything,including how to intimidate

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Daniel Speicher 3 years ago

I know Trey... He is a really great guy. I do wonder if people like you realize that people read your drivel that might care about the people you drone on about. Trey isn't going to be serving you fries any time soon and he isn't harming anyone. More than that, the staff at Free State are very committed to providing a safe atmosphere. If you knew Trey, you would know it is (as KRichards postulated) a joke.

But, hey... If you wanna go on bashing high schoolers, feel free. Most of these young men and women are already far more mature and know better than to do what you've just done. But, I understand... From a sheerly psychological standpoint, you've got to find someone to slam that can't or won't fight back or you just wouldn't be able to feel good about yourself. Sad. But, quite apparently true.

--Danny Speicher

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MarcoPogo 3 years ago

Ooooh, the online stiff arm just went POW!!!

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MarcoPogo 3 years ago

Ooooh, the online stiff arm just went POW!!!

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Daniel Speicher 3 years ago

I suppose. I would have said something like, "I have to crowd surf to my room every morning"... It would have conveyed the joke without the insinuation of bullying. But, it was a joke. And, I think my biggest question is this: When is it ever okay to do a little cyber bullying to a high school kid? I find it really ironic that so many on this board immediately assumed Trey was a bully and then went on to, in some form (some more than others), do the very thing that they say they detest.

It's one thing to get on here and verbally browbeat someone who is an adult. It is quite another thing to do so to a high school student. One has defined their life's path (presumably), the latter is still figuring it out. I wonder what the board would look like if people were attempting to offer constructive criticism instead of insults and insinuations.

--Danny Speicher

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SarcasmIsALostArt 3 years ago

Danny,

With all due respect, who appreciates constructive criticism these days?

And yes, that's a loaded question.

In good faith, I shall retract the assclown dub, and replace it with blowhard.

The End.

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Irenaku 3 years ago

I think his point is that it is crowded in the hallways and he has to move more assertively to get where he needs to go...maybe like trying to navigate your way through the Busker Festival crowds or a theme park. I did not take it as him being a bully, and I am pretty sensitive about that bullying stuff!

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therxbandit 3 years ago

Andrew Merritt, taking it like a champ.

Kids are too whiny.

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redmoonrising 3 years ago

The kid says, "There's nothing I can do about it, I'll work with what I have." and he's whiny? Hope you meant everyone but him. If not, reread the article.

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kantubek 3 years ago

Split the freshmen and sophomores into one school, and do the same with the juniors and seniors.

Voila!

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Armored_One 3 years ago

My high school was about 2/3 the size of Free State, and my graudating class was just over 1200 people. Trey wouldn't enjoy stiff arming me, if I was back in high school. Dealt with his type a number of times back in those days, which was LONG before this whole feel good movement about bullying. A nose impacting the door of a locker cured a lot of bad attitudes.

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cato_the_elder 3 years ago

He's obviously talking about the physical size of his school building.

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Armored_One 3 years ago

I kind of figured that was a given, cato, since I made the distinction between high school and graduating class. Ah well...

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windex 3 years ago

And that will decrease the crowding how, exactly? It's the same number of students.

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Richard Heckler 3 years ago

Other cities/slash school districts I've read about are back to reducing school and class sizes because the other concept did not work meaning larger everything.

Lawrence,Kansas gave up being a leader 25 years ago and has since become a follower a day late and several dollars short. Too much Chamber of Commerce and not enough thought or common sense.

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avetaysmom 3 years ago

I don't have a child in HS yet, she's in middle school, but with the size of classes anywhere its no wonder the kids who already struggle will struggle more and more, its sad. Don't have the money to pay for tutoring but have to do it, schools just don't offer enough, I feel, for kids with learning issues.

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boxers_or_briefs 3 years ago

Armored_One (anonymous) says… "My high school was about 2/3 the size of Free State, and my graudating class was just over 1200 people."

He obviously didn't graduate here, because if he did, he would have spelled "graduating" correct.

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Angela Heili 3 years ago

When criticizing someone's spelling, it's important to pay attention to your grammar, otherwise you look a fool.

He obviously didn't graduate here, because if he did, he would have spelled "graduating" (and the next word should be) "correctly".

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he_who_knows_all 3 years ago

I think either way is correct but I always thought Parry was spelled Perry too...

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boltzmann 3 years ago

No either way is not correct, "correct" is the adjective form. He was using it as an adverb modifying the verb "spelled" for which the correct form is "correctly".

I would be just as wrong for you to have written "I think either way is correctly but..."

Of course, he could have meant "He obviously didn't graduate here, because if he did, he would have spelled "graduating" c-o-r-r-e-c-t. But I doubt it.

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Angela Heili 3 years ago

As Boltzmann explained below, you are incorrect in your thinking that either way is correct.

As far as the spelling of my name:

It's spelled P-e-r-r-y when you are speaking of the town of Perry. However, it would be ridiculous for me to claim that I'm the mom of a town. So no, I'm not speaking of "Perry". Parry is spelled P-a-r-r-y when it's it's short for Paragon. A horse.

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Armored_One 3 years ago

Really? This is the best that you can come up with for a comment? Hope you didn't strain yourself with that one. All I can do is just shake my head, chuckle a bit at the sad nature of it and press on.

Thank you and please have a nice day.

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GMom05 3 years ago

Actually, I'm finding the class sizes at LHS to be incredibly small, averaging 10-14 kids, the largest being 25. My elementary kiddo, however, has 30 in his class... Another example of how Doll and the prior BOE have been balancing the budget on the backs of the elementary children.

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mamaknows 3 years ago

What classes at LHS has only 10-14 kids? My kid has at least 3 classes with 28 kids.

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trfcprincess 3 years ago

My daughter is a senior at LHS. Most of her classes (according to her teachers at the recent open house) have 16 - 18 students. Maybe it's just that the higher level/senior classes don't have as many students enrolling? We're recent transfers and have been pleasantly surprised ... so GMom05 isn't crazy! Those classes do exist :)

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pace 3 years ago

They should of divided the schools by grade, 9 and 10 in one, 11 and 12 in the other. makes more sense academically just not for sports.

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parrothead8 3 years ago

How does that solve the overcrowding issue?

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jesse499 3 years ago

Another high school on the way out west of course.

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number3of5 3 years ago

Hey, people if the schools are overcrowded, build another high school, or better yet use one of the schools that they have closed for the seniors. Then they won't have any under classmen to intimidate or as was said, "stiff arm" around.

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abacaxi 3 years ago

My kid is a sophomore this year. Her class sizes are between 30 and 35. She's given up on the lunch line. It took her 20 minutes to wait in the lunch line the other day. Classes have been reduced in duration to 45 minutes. The principal told us In the old system Freshman could earn 9 credits, now they can only earn 6. In order for them to get in enough credits they had to cut the time in class. The teachers are doing the best job the can to handle the situation. But it's chaotic!

The only reason we abandoned the junior high system was because that's what the Superintendent wanted. Parent opinion, despite what the district says, was not sought. Meetings set up for parents feedback were set to fail as very few parents were notified of the meetings. When few parents showed up, the Superintendent said that the low turnout was a signal that parents were okay with the change. We could have told you last year that there would be overcrowding.

Other school systems across the country are abandoning the middle school model and go to brand new models. I would like to know why we implemented a model that other school systems are now abandoning.

You got your way, Superintendent Doll! Now our kids are suffering. Shame on you!

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Lori Romero 3 years ago

Totally agree! My kid is a senior and thank God! wouldnt want to deal with this another yr. Dont know why so much effort was put into fighting for a second HS because of crowding if all you were gonna do was crowd it up again by putting young kids into a situaton that they are NOT mature enough for or ready!!!!!! Lunch and after school traffic are ridiculouse. How many of you have daughters that you are wiilling to throw them in with seniors. Let alone guys who may not hav developed yet and are targets for ridicule and the butt of jokes.......Great job superintendent and school board lets giv these kds more to worry about

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Daniel Speicher 3 years ago

Transitions take time. We were, literally, the last district in the state of Kansas to move to this system. It was time to do it. Suggest that your daughter try the lunchline again. I work at Free State and have seen the speed of the line increase each day. I can honestly say that no student spends more than 10 minutes in line, and most get in and out within 5.

It is unfortunate that the current 9th and 10th grade classes are the "guinea pig" classes as the kinks are worked out, but I am certain that by mid-terms of first semester, things will be running far more smoothly. Keep in mind, we are seeing the chaos that is associated, in part, to first week uncertainty that has always followed the first week in a new school for a student. Will this year's "first week" take longer to overcome? Probably. But, I would bet it happens a lot quicker than most think.

--Danny Speicher

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mfagan 3 years ago

Hey there, Danny. I'd say you're right about the lunch lines. Yesterday during the second lunch period at Free State, I stood in line with a student who was at the very back of the line. Then I started the timer. By the time the student had made it all the way through and squeezed some light ranch into a cup for dipping her slice of pizza, the stopwatch read 9 minutes, 48 seconds. - Mark Fagan Schools reporter

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Daniel Speicher 3 years ago

Yeah, a fellow staff member and I picked out a student not known for "rushing" anywhere (not even the lunchline) who got in the back of the line during the most crowded part of 3rd lunch today. The student not only took time to socialize with a few of their friends in the lunchroom, but also had a problem with their account that had to be rectified when checking out. Even with all of these factors, the student got in the line at 12:34 and was out (with the problem solved with the account) by 12:43. Nine minutes with a couple uncommon variables. Things are, in fact, moving along quite well with Free State's new serving lines. (This is due in great part to the competency of the Free State food workers... They are INCREDIBLE!)

--Danny Speicher

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abacaxi 3 years ago

Sorry, she goes to LHS.

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Daniel Speicher 3 years ago

Hmmm... Well, I can't speak to LHS, as I have no personal experience there. However, I do know a few of the food workers there as well and can say that they, too, have an organized group of people on their staff as well.

Having said that, I think what the underlying gist of my entire post was is that we need to take a breath, give it a chance and approach it with a positive attitude. I know it's a difficult transition (especially for the seniors, who feel a bit slighted and deprived of certain perceived aspects of their senior year experience). But, what we need to do as adults is shine a positive light on this. The reality is that this had to happen at some point. We were operating in an antiquated system. Is it unfortunate that the Class of 2012 had to endure the brunt of this transition? Yes. But, it would have been no less unfortunate for the class of 2013, 2014, 2015, etc., etc.

I do sympathize with your daughter (and you), but I would imagine, like I said, by mid-term of this first semester, things will be clicking along far more smoothly than anyone expected. Breathe... Smile... Life is good... :)

--Danny Speicher

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Deb Engstrom 3 years ago

Since we were the only school district in the state of Kansas who had the "junior high" (7-9) system, it was about time we made the change. Now the Freshman can have the academic challenges that they have missed out on for so long. I taught at LHS for 22 years and every year kids waited in line for 20 min at the beginning of the year until the kinks got worked out. By being so negative, you are making your kid's life much more difficult.

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jesse499 3 years ago

I take it that as usual in the Lawrence school system and many others now days just plain discipline is out of the question.

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jesse499 3 years ago

I forgot discipline begains at home that doesn't happen much now days either

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Armored_One 3 years ago

It seems we have a winner. Granted, I have no idea how they set up the lunch counter concept at Free State or LHS, but how hard is it to have a teacher standing near the line, prodding everyone to move along.

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Jock Navels 3 years ago

The class of 1965, across the United States, overwhelmed the system from kindergarten through graduate school, as it moved along, with its huge numbers. The first of the baby-boomer classes, my graduating class was almost twice as big as the previous one. My particular class had 40 kids in 3rd grade, more kids than desks. The teacher was with us all day, every day. There were no special ed classes. No school had air conditioning. Bullies roamed the playground. In high school there was no parking for student vehicles. That class, in the aggregate, has the highest SAT scores ever. I think the classes of 1966 and 1967 are also near the top. I think the kids of Lawrence can suck it up and should excel in their present situation. Their parents should quit whining.

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Danielle Brunin 3 years ago

Was it uphill both ways, to and from school in snow up to your waist? ;)

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jesse499 3 years ago

You ever notice when someone doesn't agree are doesn't want to hear what you have to say they become a smart a--

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MarcoPogo 3 years ago

Not at all. (At least around here.)

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Danielle Brunin 3 years ago

Oh come on, you have to admit it sounds like a "Back in my day" kind of story. No air conditioning, students crowded onto the floor with roving bullies and no parking spaces (and we liked it!) jocknavals makes excellent points such as do the best you can with what you have. However, things are very different now and not necessarily for the better. Shouldn't we want things to be better, ideally? Once we make things better with what we have, then we can tell people to suck it up and quit whining.

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Armored_One 3 years ago

I had to walk uphill both ways. I lived at the bottom of a hill and the school was on the other side of the hill. There was no way to avoid going uphill either direction.

And yes, there was snow. Not up to my waist, but to my knees more than once.

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BrianR 3 years ago

"Nyle Anderson hears plenty of whispers — some louder than others — in the halls of Free State High School."

I hope there isn't a basilisk at FSHS.

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Shane Garrett 3 years ago

Counter that with a weasel.

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dogsandcats 3 years ago

“It is a big class of freshmen,” the freshman said, sharing a crowded table at lunch with six fellow freshmen.

Lol, are they freshmen? I'm not quite sure.

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ResQd 3 years ago

Ooooooooh! Let's just build another school, we can afford it!

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jesse499 3 years ago

With private lunch tables where six freshman don't have to sit together they could have to talk instead of text each other.

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ferrislives 3 years ago

“I walk the halls, and I have to stiff arm people,” said Trey Jones, a senior.

Andrew Merritt, a junior at Free State, isn’t all that worried. He’s in school, taking classes and moving along fine, thank you. “There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “I’ll work with what I have.”

I know which one of these boys I'd be proud to have as a son, and it's not wannabe Chet. It's interesting to see how early these kids get set in their either somewhat abusive or laid back ways. Good attitude Andrew! You'll have a happier and easier life with that way of approaching things.

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jesse499 3 years ago

Sorry I forgot again I have saw 6 people sitting at a table not talking but texting each other talking is so old school.

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bad_dog 3 years ago

"...have saw..."

???

Have saw, will cut.

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bendover61 3 years ago

As I predicted when this was proposed, the high schools will be over crowded. Next, as I predicted, there will demands for the school board to do "something". That something will be to spend money to expand the high schools. A problem has been created where none existed.

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jesse499 3 years ago

It still doesn't exist just media blow up LHS 500 student short of 1997 and I'm sure Freestate was built to handle more than a 1000 like last year.they get this media going and well we have to have a new school.

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akt2 3 years ago

I think the ninth graders will survive just fine. By the end of first quarter they are going to be well transitioned and looking forward to the rest of their first year in high school. Next year they will hit the ground running when school starts because they will be old pros. Ninth graders shouldn't be spending their days attending school with pre-teens. I have a 10th grader in a different district. They seemed so young last year when they started their freshmen year. Their thought process and attitude mature quite a bit between 9th and 10th grade I have noticed. 9th grade freshman year helped much more than it harmed.

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Synjyn Smythe 3 years ago

The school board is reactive and merely follows Doll's advice on these matters. Chalk it up to another Doll fail!

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