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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Whatever happened to B1?

Buck’s current classroom 
Photo by: Belen Edwards
Buck’s current classroom Photo by: Belen Edwards

Colin Buck is administering a math test. He sits behind his desk, same as always, but something is off. Gone is the collage of photos of different people and places plastered across his back wall. The walls are whitewashed, obscuring the math equations Buck had previously written throughout the room. The different marks each of his classes made on his walls, whether it was a list of names, a giant M&M, or a signed ceiling tile, have vanished. The only reminder of the eclectic room Buck used to preside over is the M&M dispenser resting on his desk: two M&Ms watching a movie, one’s hands thrown back in terror.

Over the summer of 2014, Buck’s room – classroom B1 – was redone as part of the major renovation of the mansion, as were the other rooms in the mansion. But no other room in the mansion seemed to resonated with the students as much as B1.

Junior and former student of Buck’s Rohan Subramanian states that it was “the coolest room in the school…It has things in it that made connections with Mr. Buck and who he is at WIS.” Based off of the various drawings and messages from former students or members of the soccer team the math teacher coaches that used to be scrawled across the walls, it’s clear that other students saw Buck’s room in a similar light. Buck says he saw the class as “a testament to some of the students who had been there before, with their pictures and their “Class of 2007”, “Class of 2008”.”

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The renovation resulted in the loss of those testaments, but, according to Upper School Principal David Markus, it also prepared the room for future students and learning possibilities. Markus sees the room as a “possible expansion space,” and notes that “there have been changes made so that [B1] can be flexible for both a traditional classroom and a computer lab.” Such changes include the inclusion of more outlets in the room and the transformation of the walls into whiteboards to be used pedagogically.

Buck himself didn’t realize that the change would be “so drastic.” Junior Matteo Schlitz remembers that on the first day of school “Mr. Buck was just standing there looking at the room, looking like he didn’t understand. He kept saying it looked like a prison.” Buck notes that the new room “has this antiseptic feel to it.”

Where B1 used to be Buck’s classroom and office, he now works in the top of the cottage with the rest of the math department, and his room is used by other classes, such as one Theory of Knowledge class. As a result of this, Mr. Markus says, “[Buck] can’t put up anything permanent. I mean, this was millions of dollars in renovation. If he starts putting things up that can’t come down easily, that could ruin it for the next teacher.”

However, for Buck, having his own room isn’t simply a matter of putting up photos on walls. It’s about the relationship the place cultivates between the students and teacher. “Teachers having their own room is sacrosanct. It allows you to be in a place where students can access you … I think that’s important,” he says.

While B1 is often thought of as Buck’s room, he acknowledges the effort his previous students put into it as well, saying: “I think there’s also a general feeling about the B1 that we know about that a lot of work went into it.” Buck started his project before 2007 and claims that the room went through a “draft” before he proceeded to finalize what became the B1 the school came to know.

Buck's Former Classroom Walls Photo by: Colin Buck
Buck’s Former Classroom Walls
Photo Credit: Colin Buck

His views on the renovation center around the communication between faculty and students and administration: “[The renovation] sort of went ahead without real communication or consultation of what was required. The students’ views weren’t canvassed… And [the work put into B1] was just dismissed … It was a bit disappointing.” While he wishes he could redo the room, Buck says “I just don’t think I have the energy, it takes too much. To know that it will perhaps be dismantled again next year.”

In the meantime, Buck does what he can to restore B1 to its former glory. His students have signed the wall with dry-erase markers, and he has started rewriting formulas around the top of the room. Signatures from students crop up at the tops of walls or between chairs, and right beside his door, a drawing of M&Ms, a staple of the old B1, has appeared.

Buck’s old blackboard and a ceiling panel signed by the class of 2013 Photo By: Colin Buck
Buck’s old blackboard and a ceiling panel signed by the class of 2013
Photo Credit: Colin Buck

By Belen Edwards

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    Tina ThuermerApr 24, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I taught a TOK section in there and as a result of the setup, the room echoes badly, making it harder to hear and be heard. Mr. Buck’s room was truly a reflection of our community.