Why We Should Use the Courtyard More

Before the 2018-2019 school year, the courtyard was just a grassy space with no purpose. But now it’s a beautiful space where multiple classes can come together and work, so why isn’t it being used?

We’ve spent a lot of money, time, and energy to make the courtyard what it is, but not a lot of students can say they’ve been out there, which in my opinion is a waste of the courtyard.

Some of the staff’s work isn’t made for public meetings so they can’t get out there, for example, Guidance Counselor Joyce Marburger said “ My work is not conducive to meeting in a public space.”.

The courtyard has been done in stages, and it has been a group effort. The door and patio were the first stages, and then everything else came after, including the pond and life-size chess board.

Library Media Specialist Emily Amberman said that there are outside games, which could be a good escape during flex if students don’t have work for classes.

Assistant Principal of Learning Dr. Chad Brindle said that the money didn’t come from just one source. Different student groups donated some funds, and some of the money was from building funds.

“We provided opportunities for what the vision was for the courtyard and then allowed teachers or advisors of the groups to guide the decisions with their student organizations,” said Brindle.

Amberman and Brindle expressed that it’s not used as much as it could. This could be because it’s a fairly new option for teachers, or they don’t think about going out there for class.

On top of that, during the cold months, the courtyard is barely used due to the temperature, so the courtyard is really only used in the first and last couple of months of school.

For example, Science teacher David Corban and Barr expressed that its too cold but they try to get out there in the spring months.

And during those months, we tend to see a good deal of rain in the spring, and the courtyard gets muddy. This would be a problem because students would track it back into the school, and the media center is carpeted.

When classes start going out there again in the warmer months, four classes can be out at once. This means that if it’s a nice sunny week, 28 classes could go out in that week.

But, classes aren’t making use of it in any frequency. Based on my interviews, some of the staff have made use of the courtyard on staff development days to eat lunch.

While teachers acknowledge the benefits of the courtyard, it is still an underutilized space.

World Language Department chair person Shayne Joyce said that fresh air and the sun stimulates the brain.

But outside of classes, students aren’t allowed to go out in the courtyard alone. Most teachers I spoke to expressed that they think students should be allowed to go out in the courtyard by themselves.

Social studies teacher Marcie Barr and math teacher Timothy Johanning said that the students should be trusted at this age to use the courtyard without adult supervision.

Students could go out in the courtyard to get to class faster, which could help reduce late arrivals to class.

Students could also go out during flex to do work; it would be a good change of scenery and it could make students happier. because they were refreshed, and they got out of the classroom for 40 minutes. This could also make people want to do work because they can sit out on a bench in the fresh air.

If we permitted students access to the court yard without immediate teacher supervision, I think the space would be made better use of.

There are some concerns about permitting students access.

Amberman expressed that it wouldn’t be a good idea, at least right now, because the door leading out to the courtyard needs a badge in order to go outside, and for safety reasons, the door can not be left open.

And, yes, I think that some students would butcher the privilege, that’s a given with everything. But I think we could do something to prevent that; to start, we could only have 11 and 12 grade students have the privilege.

Brindle said that it looks like the courtyard will be worked on for the next three to five years. So there might be a chance in the future when students would be allowed to go out without supervision.

“Someday maybe that would be great to be able to have kids transition throughout there but at this point we are not ready for that,” said Brindle.

So, for now, I think teachers need to consider making more use of the courtyard with their classes. It’s a beautiful space and deserves to be used.

Teachers are urged to reserve a spot in the courtyard if they want a guaranteed spot and if they want a specific spot in the courtyard. They are urged to do this since the reserved classes get the spots first.