A school without windows brings days without sunshine

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

hkronmueller

Whenever I drive friends past my high school in St. Charles I get the same reaction: "Where, that prison-looking thing?"

It was built in the 1970s, but from the looks of it you would think the school was built before the invention of windows. In fact, I only had two classes with windows during my entire four-year stay.

Those two classes would have been an exciting change of pace except for the fact the windows were about eight feet tall and six inches wide. Looking through the glorified cracks in the walls, I could see children playing at the elementary school next door. I felt like a prisoner looking at the good life outside the walls.

Every afternoon we were blinded by the light as we poured out the doors. Even if it were a cloudy day, the bright, natural light would be too much for eyes accustomed to artificial light.

Maybe the architects thought the structure would be good in case of tornadoes. We wouldn't even have to leave our rooms. We could just sit in our desks and let it sweep right over us and we probably wouldn't even know.

Some days I would head out the door expecting to see the same bright blue skies I saw that morning and would be pelted in the face with raindrops instead. I didn't have a clue the weather had changed.

When we visited other schools for volleyball games or swim meets, we would marvel at the number of windows.

They were in the halls, in the classes, in the offices and even in the gyms.

We were jealous.

When the other teams came to our school, we were ashamed. They would look around and ask us how we could stand being in a building with no outside light for eight hours every day.

We had no answer.

Recently I toured the new Central High School on Silver Springs Road. It's all steel girders and concrete floors right now, but I can see it's going to be a building students at my high school will be jealous of for years to come.

I'm not usually a person who has trouble finding words, but as I toured the new building I kept going back to one word: Wow.

Even now the phrase I use to describe the new school to my friends is: It's just awesome.

The thing that impressed me the most was that there will be natural light everywhere. It's like the schools we went to visit for games in high school, only one step further.

At the schools we visited, the interior classrooms still didn't have any windows. But even the interior classes at the new Central will have access to outside light through windows at the top of the library.

The other thing I like about the new high school is the color scheme.

When I moved to Cape Girardeau in 1997, I met some people who graduated from Central. They said their school colors were orange and black. I was immediately green with envy.

I love orange, which is apparent when you look at my big, scary orange watch, as my friends call it.

When students arrive at their new school Sept. 3, they'll be greeted with orange, orange and more orange.

Again I am jealous. But I am also excited for the students who will have the opportunity to go to such a fine school.

Heather Kronmueller is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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