New School: Expectations vs. Reality

Ribbon cutting ceremony

(Photo Source: PRMHS Weekly Scoop)

Ribbon cutting ceremony (Photo Source: PRMHS Weekly Scoop)

Yvette Estevez, Editor In Chief

First day of school: Pentucket students get dressed and try to get through the embarrassment of their parents taking their “first of day school” picture. Today is the first day they will be in the newly built Pentucket Middle-High School. It will be a great start to the year.

Instead of the traditional first day of school icebreakers that students dread, teachers asked an exciting question: “What are you most excited about the new school?” 

Now it has been a couple of months since the first day of school. Students have been learning and attending the new Pentucket Regional Middle High School. It has been quite an experience for many of them. Between the ongoing construction and the new schedule, there have been both fun things and hiccups along the way. 

The new school has exceeded all expectations for the students. In fact, they were quite taken aback by the size and aesthetic of the school.  


Ribbon cutting ceremony
(Photo Source: PRMHS Weekly Scoop)


What Students Were Most Excited For 


All the students were excited to see the new middle-high school, especially the high schoolers. They had witnessed the process of the new school being built and the deconstruction of the old one. 

There are many improvements in the new school. Senior Justin Doucette said, “I was more excited to see how the new classrooms would compare to old ones.“

The new classrooms are very different from the old classrooms. They have white walls, a touchscreen projector, whiteboards, and movable seatings and chairs to allow creativity in lesson plans. 

The old school was made in the 1950s, making it quite old. It comes as no surprise that a major theme for the new school would be making it look “modern.” 

Therefore, many students were excited to see the aesthetic of the school. Junior Malialnia Charles said, “I was definitely excited about how they were going to decorate the school and how it was going to look because it was definitely modern just seeing the blueprints.”

Unlike the old middle and high schools, the new combined school has so much space for students to learn. Senior Maggie Dorato said she was most looking forward to “The breakout spaces and the spinny chairs and the ability to walk around and use the spaces freely for studying or free periods.”

There are many other things students were looking forward to such as being in a clean space. Sophomore Vivian Rizzo said she was  excited to be “in a clean environment.” 

Likewise, sophomore Sydney Trout notes that the bathrooms last year “were icky.” Many students would attest to that. Between the hot sauna temperature and broken toilets and faucets, the bathrooms left a lot to be desired. 


Did The New School Meet What The Students Envisioned and Their Expectations?


Sometimes a person can feel let down by something they had high expectations of. This happens because they spend so much time thinking about it and the joy it will bring them. This can cause a person to feel disappointed from their overly high expectations. 

Generally, Pentucket students are very satisfied with their new school and their expectations of what they were most looking forward to. 

For students, they were excited to see their teachers. In fact, many of them feel that the school is not very different, besides the new physical environment. They still have the same teachers, and the lunch food has not changed. 

On the other hand, the environment of the classes has changed. Doucette notes that he feels very “distant” from his peers in his classes because of the furniture in the classes. There are certain size tables spread across the class. The size of the tables is also an issue: “We sit in two-person tables so you are kind of forced to be friends with the person at your table instead of a group like we’ve been in the past, or desks where we can turn around and talk to everybody.” 

It is hard for students to get comfortable in their classes with the way the classes are formatted, especially if they don’t have many good friends in them. 

As it is a new school, there are bound to be problems. Another problem is the use of space, especially during study halls. 

Dorato likes the new school, but there are some drawbacks. She is “upset” that students “don’t get to use all the spaces that we have openly.”  

This can be seen during the study halls, where Dorato notes that “we have so many resources for studying and for study halls, but we aren’t allowed to spread out and use that space.” This includes breakout rooms. Students were told that there were going to be spaces where students could do their work independently in a quiet space. Yet most of these spaces are locked or only allowed for a classroom that is nearby. 

It can be hard to study or do work for a class in a study hall when students have to stay in one corner of the hallway. Study hall is always on the second floor hallway on the high school side. It can be loud at times. For example, when the college fairs were taking place, it was hard for students to get work done with it located right next to the study hall. It can also be loud because students are crammed into one space with around 50 students per study period. 

Another resource that is not always available is the library. Many students try to leave the crowded study hall for the library but it is often closed. When it isn’t closed, only 20 students can go. 


The “Modern” School


All the students had one common expectation of the school: it’s modern feel. 

Charles said that the school is very modern, as they had expected it to be, yet, as a byproduct, “the building has no character.” All students share this sentiment. 

Dorato agreed, saying, “When I thought about the new school I did not have a picture in my mind so I kind of was just imagining a really nice school that looked modern.” 

The school is too modern. Everywhere students look, there are white walls with the same classrooms that are just copied and pasted. 

At the old Pentucket High School, there was color everywhere, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. There were student murals in every hallway, and teachers could decorate their classes however they wanted. Classrooms were distinctly different. Some had posters of historical figures, others had periodic tables, and the language rooms were full of color. 

The lack of color in the new school has come as quite a shock for students. Rizzo states that the school is so plain “and simplistic that it restricts creativity.”

The school has a very modern aesthetic and contains new furniture to help make that look. Although, some of this seating is not very comfortable. 

One piece of furniture that is uncomfortable are the stools in the free seating area where students eat lunch, the study hall area, science classrooms, and the library. 

Like many others, Dorato agrees that the stools are uncomfortable. Dorato said “I feel that after a while everyone’s backs are going to be in so much pain. Especially if you are in the science rooms every day and you have the double block of an AP science class and you are sitting on these stools for two hours taking notes. That can’t be good for your spine.”

Other uncomfortable seating areas are noted to be the couches, with their hard cushions. That being said, many students enjoy them, even if they are uncomfortable. 


What Students Enjoy


Students enjoy many aspects of the new school. From the big new gym to the new science rooms, there is a lot that students are grateful for. 

When there is free time, such as before school, students love to use the open seating to talk with friends. Doucette said “ I like the meeting areas, as uncomfortable and small they are, I like that it is a nice place in the morning to run into and talk to your friends” 


Lack of Privacy


In the past, there have been difficulties the Pentucket community has faced with the bathrooms. Sometimes people would go sit in there for lunch or congregate to talk. 

Now, the new school has “fancy” bathrooms. They look like airport bathrooms, where you walk in and go into one of the stalls. There are o Dyson hand dryers, too. 

While this is great, students feel there is a lack of privacy in these new bathrooms compared to the old ones. 

Rizzo said, “I can hear what is happening in the boys’ bathroom so they must be able to hear what is happening in the girls’ bathroom and it kind of defeats the sense of privacy I feel you should have when you are in the bathroom.” 

Agreeing with her, Sydney states that “sound does travel in the bathrooms.”

This is not to say that students do not like the style of the bathrooms, just that the stalls and the bathrooms “need to be deeper,” as Rizzo states.  

Students are also dissatisfied with another aspect of the new school. If there was a data form that showed what was most used to build the school, glass would be a dominating variable. Everywhere a person looks, there is glass. This helps give that “modern” feel to the school.

Yet all the windows can reduce the security and the feel of privacy. Charles does not like the windows. She feels “It is kind of uncomfortable when you’re just sitting there and you see someone passing and you make direct eye contact.”

Although they are tucked into the back, the guidance counselor’s offices have many windows that reduce the amount of privacy a student gets. This can limit a student’s desire to ask for help because anyone can see them with their counselor. 


Areas Where Some Changes Are Needed


A major component of the school day is lunch. This is when students are able to converse with their friends and catch up. This is their reprieve from a long day of studying. 

It can be hard to enjoy lunch in the new school, though. For example, finding space for all of one’s friends can be hard to accomplish. Doucette said, “I feel like I see people, including myself, pulling up chairs to add in, like three at a time, to add people to the table, I am not saying bring back the giant lunch tables because I didn’t like those either, but I think it should be more accommodating to sit more kids at one table.” 

Doucette thinks that having smaller tables is good to have, but there should be bigger tables than the ones the school has. This will help students who like to sit in big groups and those who like to sit with a few friends do that as well. 

The rotating schedule impacts lunch too. Depending on the day, some students will have a different lunch block and may not be with their friends. 

Many high school students feel this is unfair because middle school students get to have the same lunch every day with their friends. 

Doucette said “When I am going to lunch, every day is a different lunch, when I am spinning around in circles for five minutes looking for someone to just tag along so I don’t look like an obsolete loser. That is clownery. I should have the same lunch every day with my friends.” 

Not everyone has friends in all grades. So it can be challenging for an upperclassman to have lunch in a lunch block where it is mostly underclassmen, and vice versa. Lunch should be a time of the day that is fun and not stressful. Unfortunately for many students, lunch is not a good part of their day. 


What The Public Should Know


The students at Pentucket are very lucky to have this new school. Taxpayers played a major role in its creation, as they funded the school.

It is always important to keep adults, guardians, and other significant adults informed about the education of the next generation. 

Students have come up with important things they believe others in the community should know about the new school. 

Doucette said “They are not utilizing all the spaces fairly or even at all. The break-out rooms are locked but they aren’t being used. The taxpayers are paying all this money for us to have all these new rooms to sit at and we are not even able to utilize half of them. We are crammed and stuck in this corner of the school when we have this beautiful furniture all over.” 

Charles said that parents and others should know of “The amount of stairs and floors the school has.”

Dorato feels that parents should know that the school is “not using all the spaces to their full capability.”

Finally, Rizzo and Trout feel that the new cafeteria is something important to note. Also, many students struggle to get to class on time because of the stairs, levels, and distance they have to cover. 

Being in a new, state-of-the-art, and large new school is a transition for all students and staff. There is no doubt that all the students have been transitioning exceptionally and have been enjoying their new school.