Prairie High School an Oldie but a Goodie! Population Growth, Expanding Community, Busy Main Road, COVID, and Changing Times.

Prairie High School’s layout is designed like a motel. Students must walk outside to get from class to class or building to building, exposing students to the Washington state weather. This layout would be a perfect school design if we lived somewhere warm and sunny. However, we don’t live in California – we live in Washington, where we get roughly 73 inches of rain every year.

Prairie’s school design, though cost-worthy, was not the best idea. Prairie does have covers over the walking areas to protect students from the elements, but they are narrow and make passing from class to class crowded. When large crowds of people are walking through these crowded covered spaces, it causes people to be pushed out into the weather, person-to-person body contact and slow traffic in a congested area. Some of the areas don’t have any covers at all, for example the 900 building: the areas that could be used for walking are filled up with empty soil boxes. These soil boxes once housed plants and enhanced the looks of our school. Now they are empty soil-filled boxes that students jump in and on to bi-pass the crowded halls. While weather is a problem, the doorways are another huge problem; they are incredibly narrow. When people are walking through the doors one way, you have to shove yourself through or wait until the doors are empty. This causes crowding and rubbing against one another, an invasion of personal space which is not good for our current pandemic issues with COVID-19. The stairways are one of the biggest issues of all: they are only big enough for one person to walk through, causing jams on the stairs which are both physically and personally invasive, as well as unsafe for students during the pandemic.

In addition, the classes are very far apart from each other. I, as well as many students, can appreciate the fresh air and exercise. However, it takes the whole passing period to walk from the second floor of the 400 building to the 900 building, which causes students to be late to class. Not only are the classes too far apart but the offices; Counseling, ASB, Attendance, etc. are far apart and in weird locations. It is very confusing that you need to go to so many different locations for what seems to be related resources.

Furthermore, sports and athletes’ issues; the lockers are very far away from the fields, so athletes are unable to use them during games/meets. Why have locker rooms when athletes don’t have access to them? The turf field is also far away from the parking lot. This makes it difficult for older people or people with disabilities to come and watch family members’ games.

Prairie High School is also dangerously close to a busy road, Highway 503. When the school was built this was a very remote area. With the growth of the city of Vancouver, Prairie is now on a main road and drop-off and pick-up have become an adventure in itself. The lines are long for drop-off with the buses in an odd location and two main roads to enter and exit the school. Long lines, new student drivers, busy roads, speeding drivers, and kids running across the road are scary and unsafe.

Prairie High School has many pro’s and con’s. With the current times, our school design does help with the coronavirus by having everyone outside, giving them more access to fresh air and socializing. Classes are organized into different buildings which help students to find their class with ease. Most of the school’s classes are on the first floor, making the school safer in emergencies.

When the school was designed I’m sure the layout was more affordable and easy access for people of all abilities, however with the growth of the community, times, laws, safety and the changing of times in general, Prairie could use an upgrade. The community has grown and the school walk-way’s, stair-way’s, bus drop-off/pick-up, entrances and exits to the school do not accommodate current times. I love our school and its environment, but with growth in population the school could use some updates and change.