The Controversial Rising Star: The Staircases

By Joseph Lee

Backpage Editor

Pictured above: One of Hammond’s new staircases following renovations

After the Hammond renovation, there was a certain excitement that the student body had about coming back to school. It had been years of advocating, and the Hammond community wanted the renovation to finally happen. It being held off by the school board mixed with the previous year being all virtual, we couldn’t wait to see what was new with the building.

With the school being one story for so long, the new stairs and upper level helped set the renovation into reality. From a new hallway to new classes, it was an exciting start to the year. 

The classes on the upper level were where all the new English and English-related classes, like Yearbook and Journalism, were. Since Hammond High School requires English classes to be taken every year to graduate, that means every student, unless taking an HCC course, has to enroll for at least one. This also means they always have to use the stairs every year and if they want to take an extra English elective, they are going upstairs several times a day. 

Personally, the stairs have always been an inconvenience during my school day. Since I have English first period, it’s also the first thing I have to deal with. I can’t always stretch or be ready for that mountain climb so early in the morning.

When I get myself up to the second floor, my calves are burning, my lungs are gasping for air, and my attention is kept on trying to seem relaxed. I struggle to seem not tired because everyone else seems fine too. I thought it might just be me and maybe it was a sign I needed to get in shape. That could be the case, but when talking with friends and asking other students in general, it seemed to be a common theme for them as well. 

When asked, sophomore Abigail Albertorio responded with, “…you have to remember that I’m here for like 6 hours with a heavy backpack on my back with a computer and folders and stuff. I’m not ready for the stairs. I am weak.” 

Fellow sophomore Delaney Thomas added that the stairs are, “…overly crowded too.”

With the renovation, we were able to have more room in the school theoretically. There, however, is still an issue with students getting packed against each other. There was already a well-known problem of overcrowding in the hallways, but with the new set of stairs came the same set of problems.

With the stairs leading to one of the main classes everyone takes, English, to it being near the lunchroom, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of space to allot for student traffic.

A main drawback of it is arriving to class late. Sometimes, the only way to get to class on time is to leave immediately after the bell rings, but that is an unrealistic expectation for students to follow everyday. It also shouldn’t be relied on to have to ask the previous teacher for a pass everytime you leave for class. To go through the halls and then having to climb the stairs with the crowding, leaves many people getting to class late. Some students have even expressed concern as their teachers are not always forgiving for their lateness. 

When asked about her experience, senior Cassandra Lassey explained how, “A lot of teachers haven’t been so lenient and really been experiencing the hike of what it’s like coming from the villa to the stairs and sometimes the stairways make you late for classes and teachers aren’t always that lenient when it comes to that. 

There are also the elevators. It seemed that the elevators were open all the time, as it helped people that have limitations for climbing the stairs. As regular students who still struggled with the stairs were starting to use it for themselves, it seemed it was then prohibited further where now a key is required to ride it.

I talked to some students with leg injuries about their opinions on the elevator situation. They expressed concern about how they have to leave class so early and sometimes get to class late.

Junior Maia Woodson shared how, “…it can get annoying as I leave most of my classes five to ten minutes early especially after this period. I leave a good 9 minutes early because on crutches it’s not easy walking all the way here to the villa and I have to stop in at the nearest classroom or the health room and grab a key because they have to open it [the elevator] for me. They don’t let you get the key. As a student I literally have to go there everyday.”

They have to ask the health room teacher or the teacher from their class for the key to unlock the elevator. 

The stairs get a lot of flack so I asked about any benefits they provided, but a lot of people shared similar sentiments about overcrowding and it being tiring. The only good point students could seem to point out was what the stairs symbolized. With the renovation came a feeling of pride about our once more infamous school design.

From dingy to new and clean, it was what made students feel that Hammond was cooler.

“I like the stairs and the elevator,” said junior Jordan Campbell. “I think it makes our school look really nice. We’re not those oddballs, we have stairs, elevators, and we get to use it.”

This new vision of Hammond made the stairs almost seem worth the trek for some students. 

With the stairs, some students have thought of possible solutions to combat the struggles we face. One was to actually put directions or arrows on the stairs.

Sophomore Naz Tarim suggested that the school, “Paint arrows on the stairs so that if you’re going up on the stairs you go one way and if you’re coming back then you go on another because people keep on mixing and it’s really annoying.”

Though a small visual detail, it could help students to stay more organized within the staircase.

Senior Cassandra Lassey also added that we might need to make, “…the elevators more open to people who may struggle going up the stairs everyday (that’s not as visible as wearing a crutch) or people who come from the villas and need to get to class on time. And I do have to say the crowded hallways are also a big problem and I can say a solution I could propose for that is dismissing certain classes at certain times.”

This could promote more leniency for teachers about their students, and help students feel less anxious about being late. 

Though there are a lot of negative feelings towards the stairs, when it comes down to it, people will still use it and it’s not a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately. I feel like with most things, the students at Hammond have decided to just deal with it. It’s still cool to note the same ideas about the staircase most of us share though and that I’m not alone in struggling going up them.