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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

High School Spaces: Detrimental and Dividing?

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Tregaron Campus essentials include the luminous Hall of Peace, Davies Hall, the “library” and it’s “courtroom” area for relaxation, and of course the infamous Senior Lounge (“slounge”), but who knew these beautiful spaces could create so many social conflicts in between grades? As every high school grade has over time designated a specific  “social space” for themselves, these separations have caused a negative division in between grades.

By Celeste Bloom

The juniors and administration describe Davies Hall as an earned privilege and are angered when underclassmen come into this off-limits area. Junior Isabella Valla said “Davies Hall is something you earn as you enter the International Baccalaureate (IB), which is a whole other academic level, and different than ninth and 10th grade.” Valla finds it disrespectful when younger kids come in and use Davies Hall.

The IB is considered an extremely rigorous program with three main components, Community, Action, Service (CAS) hours, Theory of Knowledge (TOK) as well as the 4000 word Extended Essay (EE). In addition students must take three subjects at the higher level, and work through day to day curriculum, tests and exams. Many 11th-graders feel as if Davies is an outlet that helps them cope with the struggles of junior year and feel protective of it.  Fellow junior Emre Tokpinar agrees stating, “I’m mad when younger students walk through Davies because it is specifically a space meant for students going through the IB.” Several juniors claimed that some students are well known for yelling at younger students who walk through Davies, including Tokpinar and Fabrice Gray. Both Tokpinar and Gray confirm that they have and would yell at any younger students walking through Davies.

On the other hand, Anya Jacoby didn’t feel as strongly about this issue when it came to students like sixth-graders since they don’t know about the taboo against entering the space. Junior Celeste Bloom seemed to care the least saying “contrary to popular opinion, I actually don’t mind when others walk through Davies. It’s annoying to have to walk all the way around just to get to class.” Fellow junior Emre Tokpinar agrees stating, “I’m mad when younger students walk through Davies because it is specifically a space meant for students going through the IB.”

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By Celeste Bloom


Some students even brought up romance causing conflicts, mentioning underclassmen who’d been yelled at for coming into Davies to see their significant other. According to certain juniors, relationships with underclassmen are actually quite common and it seems that these designated “social spaces” might create some issues. While Tashi Bucknall made it clear that “no sophomores [are] allowed in Davies”, his friends said otherwise and claimed he’d brought his girlfriend in various times. Though the underclassmen might feel annoyed about not being able to enter Davie to hang out with friends or significant others, Valla explained that it’s something people tend to understand more when they gain access to Davies, as there’s a lot more stress in Junior year.

Top left photo shows division of juniors and sophomores.

It’s clear the Juniors take pride over this special space. However, this privilege almost got taken away. Last year, the 10th-graders (current juniors) got a two week early access to Davies Hall and the 11th-graders (now seniors) took over the Slounge after senior graduation. However, this was almost taken away from the sophomores when 11th-graders “booed” the 10th-graders when they were given Davies. This unforeseen complication almost caused Mr. Markus to change his mind to avoid more conflicts.

Looking ahead, Bloom stated that “we might want to keep Davies next year”. Most juniors agree with her as the Slounge has a reputation of being “disgusting” and “smelly”. The current Seniors don’t spend much time tidying the space whereas Davies stays clean because it is also used by the administration.

We asked freshmen if they feel the different “social spaces” creating conflict. Camila Levy felt annoyed about the spaces, stating that “When I have class in the mansion, I find it hard to make my way around and it’s especially hard when I just want to hang out [near Davies Hall]”. She feels as if there’s always going to “be some sort of tension but intermixed grades in an area is always nice.” However, Siena Del-Sontro, a fellow Dateline writer, didn’t feel as if there is conflict, “but there is a sense of superiority.”

By Celeste Bloom


Similarly, sophomore Sofia Giorgianni stated that she doesn’t “think the spaces create direct rivalry, but I do believe that they create underlying tensions between the different grades.” Recently, an Instagram post by Nadim Mottu, a freshman, revealed the underlying conflicts in between grades. He created a meme about underclassmen not being allowed in areas like Davies Hall, which shows that the separation is well known and ingrained in WIS high school culture to the point that it’s often joked about.

Photo by Nadim Mottu

Freshman Zachary Roberts feels differently about two grades sharing a space. He said that sometimes big groups of middle schoolers or upperclassmen hang out in a space and then a bunch of others have to find a new space. It seems that the ninth and 10th-graders, who have the easiest and most accessible “social spaces” on campus, feel as if other grades often take control of what technically should be rightfully theirs. Rose Boehm, a ninth-grader who came to WIS this year, opened up her perspective sharing the following statement: “I’ve always thought that WIS has friendships throughout all the grades, but it’s restricting having specific spaces for each grade.” However, she does understand the purpose of the designated spaces and the stress older classmen are experiencing. She proposed maybe opening up the Dacha for freshmen, as the Hall of Peace tends to be filled with middle schoolers and sophomores. One issue with this would be trash left over that might irritate the teachers who use that space, though in Davies Hall the system of letting both administrators and students use it seems to work.

Seniors, who have the most privileges out of all four grades, were last but certainly not least. Dateline’s very own Holden Davitian said that “if we even saw an underclassmen, everyone [would] look at them.” She also stated that she takes extra caution if she sees an underclassmen, and tells them it might be safer to leave. She called it a “no-go” zone and even said that when she sees an underclassmen waiting for a sibling, she offers to go in with them.

By Holden Davitian

Alexandra Akhtarzandi-Das agreed that the Slounge is a space underclassmen should stay out of, if they intend on hanging out. Although, she said that she thinks her “grade has been more relaxed when it comes to underclassmen entering the slounge. In the past, seniors never let underclassmen enter under any circumstances. We allow some students depending on the situation.” They “try to enforce the ‘seniors only’ rule as strictly as possible without being mean” and thinks the only way for this to work is for underclassmen to simply respect the rule. However, she did feel as if freshman and sophomores weren’t as fortunate when it came to spaces – one of the many conclusions we’ve made through this process.

Though the main conflicts seem to be between upper and lower classmen, there are still squabbles between the closer grades. Marta Maliszewska stated that she’d be willing to yell at the Juniors to quiet down when she’s studying in Davies, though both seniors and juniors have more or less equal privileges to the space. This seems to show that the students are the ones creating the rules and restrictions around the spaces, not faculty members. As a matter of fact, high school principal Mr. Markus explained that “Nobody really decides who gets these spaces – the students decide.” Contrary to his claims, certain sophomores such as Clara Mello have said that they’ve been allowed into Davies, only to get kicked out by teachers. Apparently, the teachers agree with the divisions between the grade levels, even if they weren’t the ones to decide. Mello also said that “each grade should respect [the] others and stay in their designated space, and if it is an emergency they can simply ask for permission.”

Despite the many hiccups, everyone agreed on one thing: each high school grade has a space to go too. However, middle schoolers still struggle on where to go after school. The Middle Schoolclassrooms tend to be locked, triple AAA classrooms are typically off limits, and the Mansion, of course, is a big no. With classes sometimes filling up the library, these students find themselves at an utter loss as to where to go. Eighth-grader Quentin Maret wishes for more access to spaces after school. He feels in a way “trapped” as he shared a story about him and four other friends trying to sled down the banana field on school property on a weekday. He explained how he didn’t understand how it was restricted now, but on the weekend he was allowed to do whatever he wanted. He even had a conversation with Ms. Lluch, a middle school favorite, to discuss these rules, but apparently he didn’t go too far in his persuasive arguments as he didn’t want “to put effort into a long process to change the rules”.

Mary-Marjorie Rohan-Dobson has similar thoughts, stating that she wishes “WIS had more spaces for middle school students to hang out. If we go into a space where there are high schoolers, they’ll generally say it’s just for them but it isn’t.” This point was interesting because it goes back to the topic of who really decides who has control over these spaces. Rohan-Dobson said that she sticks to going to subject labs on Tuesday & Thursday, as it gives her a quiet place to study.

Braden Kiang seemed to be neutral on the topic, saying that he tends to go to the Student Center where “food is easily accessible” and he “doesn’t have to exercise”. Abby Bown has contrary opinions on the student center, saying it’s not a “very nice place”. She feels as though next year in high school middle schoolers will be invading her space since they won’t have anywhere to go. Alex Mundaca also expressed frustration, explaining how the library turned Design Lab has left him and others at a loss as to where to go. He tends to go down to Connecticut, as he feels the most freedom down there. Him, along with others, wish classrooms were open and he made it clear there wasn’t “a single space!”

All these conflicts have resulted into one request: getting the middle school renovated. The MS building itself was created in 1988 and has not had any full-scale renovations since it’s creation. Yes, the same year that pop star Rihanna was born, our classic red brick with a schoolhouse-bell middle school was built. Today, it remains the same with the awkward color combinations in the hallway and the bathrooms with paint ripping off the walls and doors that won’t lock. The students have many opinions on this, such as seventh graders Anaruby Hudgens and Robert Henneghan. They stated that “the bathrooms NEED to be done” with science teacher, Ms. Tong, agreeing.

The student center, probably the most updated space in the building, still brings complaints as Rohan-Dobson, said “It’s terrible, it’s falling apart. And I’m always falling on the stairs going up and down from there!” Poppy Carver-Kay remarked that “It’s ugly and the colors don’t match” while Bown went on saying “It sucks… the student center smells bad.” All of the teachers also seem to want more space in the classrooms. Ms. Adhikari brought up the point that more old-fashioned lectures take place, rather than the preferable “innovative teaching”, due to the tight spaces. Clearly, there are many changes that must be made!

Throughout this process, we’ve learned so much and are proud to announce that, as we are both co-presidents for ISU, we’ve noticed this idea getting brought up more and more. We were given a checklist on what we want most changed (on behalf of the student body), we’re so happy to announce that our Head of Facilities, Mr. Dale Temple, is looking into potential architects and plans for the future. Examples of this are elevated seating in the Student Center,  better bathrooms, and floors ridden of mold. We have hope for the middle school, and eventually students will have a cleaner, nicer environment to spend their time in, and more spaces will be created giving both units middle and upper schoolers a safe and open space to be in.

Despite the many hiccups, everyone agreed on one thing: each high school grade has a space to go to.

Sophia Rees and Maia Nehme

*This article has been modified since it was originally published. Editors looked over the article for factual inaccuracies and republished it.

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