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Op-ed: Gorham High School renovations

          

By Ethan Bump, Gorham Maine 

High School Student

The town council recently rejected the proposal for a $72 million high school renovation, saying it was ‘too expensive.’ Perhaps it was a little expensive. However, we need to keep working on it to come up with something better. Gorham High School was built in 1959. Renovations in 1971 and 1995 helped with overcrowding at the time, but the school’s student population continues to grow. 

The school’s last renovation in 1995 was to accommodate 750 students. By the 2003-2004 school year, the building was already overcrowded by at least 20 students. From there, it kept growing and the building in this current school year, 2019-2020, serves 856 students. We are 106 students overcrowded, which may not seem like that big of a problem but try being a student in these conditions. I frequently have to wait in a line to go upstairs because the stairs are crowded with around 40 students at any given time. 

The cafeteria is a particularly big problem, because it is too small to accommodate the students. Keep in mind, we have 3 lunch periods at Gorham High, and each is very overcrowded. In each lunch you will frequently see students eating on the floor outside the cafeteria because there is no room left in the actual cafeteria. I feel that we need to come up with something quickly, to avoid possible increases construction costs as more houses are built in the area and more families move in. 

The three elementary schools in Gorham are also overcrowded. Most of those students will eventually move up to Gorham High School. Therefore, the overcrowding is not going to stop, and unless we do something within the next few years, the cost for a renovation could be much higher. 

As a student who has to share a building with 855 other students plus 110 staff members, it can be very stressful to attend school. Classes frequently have to bring in extra chairs and desks because the number of students exceeds the normal capacity of the rooms. 

We do not have enough teachers to accommodate the students, and as such this school year we’ve had to hire an extra Physical Education/Health teacher for the year because the current PE/Health staff have their hands full. Hiring one-year teachers to help with the growth and to offer classes that should otherwise be offered has been happening for several years. Maybe we should focus more on academic space than athletic space in the next renovation? This will not affect me before I graduate in June, however for the students that are next in line to experience the GHS overcrowding, I hope that the town can come up with a suitable solution. 

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