Tutoring makes a clean sweep of atrium lunch gatherings

Ash Chang | Conant Crier

Glimpsing at the world outside of school while talking with a group of friends. 

Basking in the warm, mid-afternoon sun while it paints a glow across the floor, all while enjoying the “special of the day”. 

All of this is the direct result of having lunch in the atrium: a calming, peaceful atmosphere where students can enjoy socializing during lunch in contrast to the cafeteria which is known for its loud, obnoxious sounds where yelling is the only way to have a conversation. 

With tutoring being moved to the atrium, a place for quiet conversation while eating lunch is ripped from under our feet. Lunch can no longer be enjoyed in an open area such as the atrium, and it can’t be an area for conversation amongst friends, either. 

The atrium is now a place of deadly silence, only accessible if seeking homework help or test prep. Instead of taking this area away from students, tutoring should instead move back to the English Wing and lunch should commence in the atrium for all students to enjoy. 

The sudden change for removing the atrium as a place for lunch was due to population growth; there are 100 more students this year than in previous years. The population at Conant is also expected to increase in the coming years due to the housing development off of Wise Road and Summit Road. 

Repurposing the space is also due to the fact that the atrium is the least “properly” used. In the past, it was a “hang-out” spot before COVID and was only used as a lunch space within the past year. Whereas  tutoring was previously in a specific classroom in the English Wing, it is now in an open area of the building and more accessible to students.

Even though the location of tutoring is in a more “obvious” part of the building, there are still setbacks to taking over such a large space for tutoring. For one, even though the encouragement is there, it won’t persuade students to suddenly come to tutoring. There are people like myself who are stubborn in their ways and will only go into tutoring once, or twice, in their entire high school experience because we either ask our teacher before or after class, or we figure it out ourselves. By taking away this space, the school isn’t getting more use out of it, but rather minimizes the use since not many people utilize tutoring. 

There’s also the point of distraction. A student who seemingly came into tutoring, whether it be guided or just a study hall, will be distracted by the tempting window looking out into the parking lot, or getting burned by the sun with the fluctuating temperatures within the atrium. Since the atrium windows absorb a lot of heat, the temperature is more likely to differ depending on what time of day it is, and that can be especially distracting when you’re trying to study for a test or get help with homework. A student will spend more time either zoning out through the window or deciding whether or not to take off their jacket because the atrium chose “heat” as their default setting. So, a classroom setting would fit the vibe more for complete focus, such as the English Wing.

For the sake of sentimental value, even though we are receiving a service in return such as tutoring, we are still having a place of socializing being taken away from us. During my freshman year, the atrium was a place where students hang out before and after school, and while we couldn’t eat there, they could still freely converse amongst themselves. 

Having a hangout spot being stripped from us will give us less places to chat at a comfortable volume, since you still need to be pretty quiet in the library when talking and the cafeteria has no volume control. The atrium gives us the opportunity to speak at a volume we’re used to, one that isn’t suppressed or exaggerated. It makes us comfortable within our own skin, and trading that for something that enforces a classroom-like atmosphere will make students feel uneasy at Conant.

Some people, however, would like to argue that having tutoring in the atrium would bring up new opportunities for accessibility since you don’t have to figure out which room to enter in the English Wing. They would also say that tutoring should be able to stay in the atrium because it has always been a pretty quiet place and would make it a great place to study. By having lunch in the atrium, it would distract the students trying to study and get assignments done for classes. 

However, where accessibility is concerned, even though tutoring is now in an area where it’s more noticeable, it doesn’t bring up new opportunities since it’s still located in the same building. 

Nothing is really changing except for the location, and that in itself is taking away a student’s area to socialize at a comfortable volume since the cafeteria is loud and is making the atrium into another quiet space. If students really wanted to study in silence, they should go to the library or stay in their study halls instead of having a whole area taken away from them. Tutoring in the atrium creates a separate classroom environment, when the original purpose was to be used as an escape from that atmosphere. 

As of now, students will miss reminiscing conversations, and flavors of the day, all lost to the void to a menacing presence within the atrium: another classroom. Students will have to bear constant distraction if they seek out tutoring in the atrium. Then, during their lunch in the cafeteria, they will need to participate in their daily shouting match to be heard over a sea of voices to talk with their friends. Tutoring should be banished back to a classroom; let the atrium continue to be a hangout spot, because chances are, lasting memories will be made to define a student’s high school experience.


Jamie Okulanis

Jamie Okulanis is an Opinions Editor and a Junior at Conant. This is her second year on the Crier Staff. At Conant, Jamie is a part of PRIDE. Outside of Conant, she enjoys reading and watching new shows on Netflix.

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