Is Ascension Getting TOO Big?

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Tyler Malbreaux

For all you poor souls (you’ll get the joke later) clawing your way out of the concrete walled prison that is Ascension, Leighton is the fancy font, and Tyler is the boring font.

It was a lovely day when my bff Tyler and I were walking through the parking lot… just kidding! It was actually really nasty outside that week, and the weather was disgustingly humid. Anyways, as Tyler will explain, we noticed two things:

First, the combined total value of all the student cars is equal to the GDP of a small country (but that’s not what we’re here to talk about). Instead, the second and more important part is that by the end of 2015, we won’t have any more parking spots available. As of right now, there are 112 parking spaces available to students and faculty, excluding the gravel parking lot. Out of these 112, six are handicapped spots, which are hardly ever used. This leaves 106 usable spots. And Leighton and I know for sure that eventually that the 106 parking spaces will not be enough. Determining exactly how many we will need to keep up with SMP’s expansion, we had to assume a few things. So we started off by assuming that 100 percent of all juniors and seniors of the 2015-16 will drive to school. Being that these numbers stay the same, then we have already used 93 spots. Adding in the faculty and staff with a large sophomore class of approximately 66 people, and assuming that half of them will be driving to school by December 2015, then that would produce a deficit of  57 spots.

And if no one believes us yet, then don’t take our word for it. Just ask Junior Cameryn Simon. For the past two days, she has had to park in the gravel, across from the gym because every spot, not including the senior parking lot, is taken. It’s important to note that the general parking lot is full, while a few of the senior spaces remain empty, the reason being that some seniors don’t even use it. Take Senior Alex Ajam for example. Ever since this school year began, he has parked on the very back row, because Mrs. Arabie or another staff member takes his spot practically every day.

Not only is the parking lot an issue, but there are many other factors that prove we’re outgrowing Ascension. Each 8th grade class that joins us every year just keeps getting bigger and bigger. And let’s not forget about the estimated 30-40 new students we’ll have joining our school in fall 2015. Because of all these big numbers, we’re simply running out of space. We’ve built two new classrooms this past year, but it still won’t be enough to keep our schedule as it is. We’ve recently learned the unfortunate news of the new schedule idea for next year. Not only does it add 7th period to the rotation (I’m sure we’re all excited to get sweaty in PE at 8 a.m.) but we’ll be starting at 8:00 a.m. ARGHHHH! Okay, but seriously, I don’t want to get up even earlier than I already do. And what about those who don’t live near school. These folks already have to get up extra early because of the location of the SMP campus. What about them?!? Poor souls.

The good news is that students who don’t need to take 8th hour PE get to leave earlier.

All of this change effects both students and teachers alike, so it would only make sense if both sides were to make recommendations to change the way our system works. In reference to other logistics issues that could arise with an increasing student body, Mr. Sierveld offers a bold but viable solution to traffic flow during carpool.

“They actually have to close off an entrance in the morning because it causes a traffic jam in the morning for people in the carpool line. You now how that school (Ernest Gallet Elementary, by Rouses) poured gravel to make a driveway for carpool? Well they could bring one all the way around to front entrance of the school (the one showed in the picture), that circles around, drops them off, and goes back out to the main road. It would be a lot of gravel, but you wouldn’t have to block off an entrance, which is kinda weird.”

And he’s right, it is weird. Blocking off an entrance with traffic cones is only a temporary solution that won’t work in the long run. It’s why we need to have a serious conversation. The parking lot, the schedule, logistics. Everything.  Including faculty, staff, administration, and even students,  so we can continue to make Ascension have the same appeal of a small school, but at the same time, a home to new students.