By Caitlin Chung
Sitting in French class, watching my teacher explain a lesson on passé composé, I inhale, as any normal person would do after exhaling, and a sharp, nauseating, and even slightly funky stench enters my nostrils. Even through my mask, the smell is unbearable. I quickly glance around, struggling to figure out where exactly it’s coming from. The moment I peer down at my notes with a sigh, trying my absolute hardest to shift my focus onto the list of verbs neatly printed on my paper, I jump in my seat. Aggressive drilling, coming from some unseen part of the building, shakes the entire classroom. The percussion of clanks, bams, and booms seems endless. By the time it’s a break, I go outside to the front of the school, only to be greeted by a painfully familiar scent and song.
I know I am not the only victim. First, I’d like to mention that I have no intention of slandering any particular person or organization. I also understand I may be a tad dramatic, but this level of exaggeration is absolutely necessary for me to state my case.
The untimely construction of our school parking lot and roof has caused a major inconvenience to students and staff alike since the start of the school year. In all honesty, I got used to it pretty quickly, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t think of an answer to one question: Why couldn’t the school have done this construction earlier? In other words, why wait until the start of the school year to begin construction when they had the summer and all of last year to complete this large-scale project? I’m sure there must have been several reasons, but its impact on all members of the school community still seems unfairly significant.
Conversations with friends, comments made by peers and teachers in class, and my own experience with the construction going on at our school have brought me to a simple conclusion. The fact that, along with being a nuisance, this mistimed construction has been compromising our health and education. My friends have complained of headaches in class from the smell. Since we’re in those classrooms for more than twelve hours a week, such a side effect is not entirely surprising. I’ve heard others complain about the air pollution surrounding our school, the relentless noise, and the vibrations. I mustn’t fail to mention the jumpscares and various distractions which undoubtedly affect our concentration, and as a result, our academic performance. The issue that causes the most concern among all involved is not being able to open windows due to the smell, despite safety regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The ill-timed construction of the parking lot, which blocks off one entrance, has caused much congestion in the area. I can also imagine it frustrates many parents and guardians who come to drop off and pick up students in the mornings and afternoons. All in all, I think we can collectively agree that the construction has made itself into a common enemy in discussion within our school community.
Photos by Rebecca Mendes
Luckily, the construction seems to be coming to an end. It could be a shared perception that the impacts aren’t as severe anymore, perhaps because we’ve gotten used to it. Regardless, since there’s nothing we can do to speed up the process, nor a way to go back in time to start the construction earlier, I say it’s best to be patient until the end; please bear with me as I try to convince myself that the construction will be over soon.
I must add that I have no complaints about the workers themselves. Let’s be honest: I bet they’re not too enthusiastic about seeing annoying teenagers when they come to work every day. Plus, spotting a couple construction workers on the roof is always a nice surprise when I’m zoning out during class.
Note: the construction at Richview’s parking lot is over as of this article’s initial publication.