As spring comes to Perkiomen Valley, the few times that students are allowed to take a step outside will be greatly valued. However, these few instances do not give students the full experience of the warm weather, since the majority of the students’ time is spent cooped up inside instead. A perfect location for more outdoor enjoyment would be the courtyard, the area that has been occupying space since the school’s relocation of the cafeteria from the first floor to the second. Perkiomen Valley should make use of the deserted courtyard for classes or extracurricular activities, giving students the chance to soak up the sun and become more excited by the change in scenery.
Most classes at PV are located in windowless rooms and very rarely do students cross the courtyard to move to their next classroom. If teachers were encouraged to make use of this space, it could get the acknowledgment it deserves and benefit students in the process.
“The lack of windows, sunlight, and fresh air can make classrooms feel like dark, dreary prison cells,” Lillian Miller, a junior, said.
“Personally, I think an occasional change of setting would make classes much more enjoyable, and give students a much needed break from glaring LED lights and backlit devices. Holding classes outside would undoubtedly help students embrace more creative endeavors, and foster a more positive learning environment!” she adds.
As Miller stated, students easily lose interest in what they are learning when forced in the same classrooms throughout their day, enjoying only the landscape of fluorescent lights and white-washed walls. Engaging students can be easy by bringing them to the courtyard and away from the dim glow of chromebooks.
However, there are some problems that arise when trying to execute this change of setting. First, taking students outside is not always possible for the teachers due to limitations of the landscape.
Also, the lack of use of the courtyard stems from the inability to easily teach a class.
“It would be nice if there were tables or benches so that if you want to do a lesson or lecture outside [you can]…I have taken classes out there but they end up sitting on the ground and then if it’s wet, then that’s a whole issue,” Mrs. Brecht, AP Environmental Science teacher, said.
If the high school wanted to recreate the courtyard to accommodate students, they could do so by making it more comfortable, like the senior lounges on the second floor. But, even if the courtyard is open to students, curriculum prevents reasons to leave the inside classrooms.
Most classes don’t provide flexibility that could warrant a trip outside, but the courtyard can be used through extracurricular means instead during free periods and study halls, helping to get kids outside.
“If we had small gardens or flower beds out and kids working on those during the spring season during study hall, if that’s something they’d be interested in, that would be amazing,” Brecht noted.
Many teachers with core classes might not be able to do this, but teachers can use the excuse of a “brain break” when students start losing focus.
Of course, there still are some problems if more classes use the courtyard. As administrator Mr. Stipa noted, there needs to be some form of authority present much like in the halls to prevent any trouble. Additionally, the classes might distract students who are inside. Still, there is great support by faculty, staff, and students for outdoor classes and the additional benefits for the student body prove the usefulness of classes in the courtyard.