New buildings officially in use for 2014-15 school year

Adele Bloch and Claire Krugler

Students enjoy the new, modern furniture of the Media Arts Center. Photo by Adele Bloch.
Students enjoy the new, modern furniture of the Media Arts Center. Photo by Adele Bloch.

After over six years of planning, the Media Arts Center and the combined Social Science and Math buildings are officially in use for Palo Alto High School’s 2014-15 school year.

Both buildings are accessible to students regularly, providing them with a contrasting setting and environment to other buildings on campus. The buildings are two-storied, and each offer new hang-out spots and furniture to Paly students.

History teacher and Paly alumnus Steve Foug admires the new buildings and looks forward to teaching his students in the updated classrooms.

“I really like the newness of everything,” Foug said. “I was telling the kids in my class, ‘You know that moment when you get an iPhone and you peel that plastic off of it when its brand new? There’s that nice feeling to it.’”

Each building has been designed to showcase modern features, such as new computers, elevators and glassy windows. According to Foug, the history building lets in more natural light and is much more central to campus than the previous building he was acquainted with.

The area outside of the new social science building has become a frequent hang-out spot for many students, according to Foug.

“I’ve already noticed a congregation area in front of the math and history building,” Foug said.

However, some students find the math and history building difficult to get to from their other classes, and thus do not want to spend their free time there.

“I like how they’re open, but I don’t like how they are so far away from everything,” senior Kabria Dame said.

According to senior Charlene Zhu, the new buildings also have another drawback; the stairs can be an obstacle because of the heavy crowds and limited space, causing some students to worry about being late to class.

“They [the stairs] do slow me down because so many people are trying to go up and down them at once, especially the ones in the front, but it’s just a small annoyance,” Zhu said.

However, some students are still very optimistic about the new building, regardless of the stairs.

“I feel like it’s not too big of an issue,” sophomore Nathaniel Hancock said. “The people with complaints probably try to walk up the stairs at the time of a huge crowd, but the stairs are normally pretty empty for me.”

Despite the extra distance and occasionally inconvenient stairs, the open space of each building adds new opportunities for teachers and students, according to English teacher Craig Bark who uses the MAC as a second classroom.

In the first week of school, Bark had his students conduct interviews for a personality profile class assignment in the MAC, which provided a cozy environment for his students.

“I let them use the MAC for interviews so that they are in a comfortable setting where they can spread out,” Bark said. “They can find a nice place to work with their friend, where it’s very relaxing.”

Students study at high-rise tables on the second floor of the Media Arts Center. Photo by Adele Bloch.
Students study at high-rise tables on the second floor of the Media Arts Center. Photo by Adele Bloch.

Junior Aiva Petriceks enjoys spending her prep in the MAC because of the quiet work environment and spacious attributes.

“There was a good amount of people in there [the MAC],” Petriceks said. “I can see it becoming one of the new places where everyone will go on rainy days.”

The proposition for the new buildings arose in 2008 and construction began in 2011. The buildings officially opened last week.

After coming to the MAC every day for classes and conferences during the first week of school, Bark says he already feels at home in the new building.

“It’s not a row of seats in a classroom with somebody sitting behind you breathing down your neck,” Bark said. “It’s bean bags, it’s upstairs, it’s space.”

Although other teachers have been able to make fairly quick transitions, Foug says that he needs more time to adjust to the new building since he had strong ties to his old classroom in the 300 building.

“I was there [my old classroom] for 15 years,” Foug said. “All my old desks are gone. Those are some of the classrooms where I had history when I was a student. Everything doesn’t feel like home yet.”