Changes to room numbers prompts confusion


Jame Sewell, Columnist

When the new classroom numbering system was changed unexpectedly, students and teachers throughout South were confused and disorientated. The lack of an explanation for this change continues to frustrate many. Despite the resentment towards this unforeseen change, there are legitimate safety concerns that prompted this adjustment, according to Casey Wright, Associate Principal for Administrative Services and Derek Selzer, the School Response Liaison with South and a fire captain with the Glenview fire department.

The reason for this change is a legitimate one. A test taken in 2019 revealed the various safety hazards that the room numbering system posed. During this test, emergency workers struggled to navigate the old numbering system. This potentially posed a major threat to the safety of everyone in the school. 

“When you go to a hotel or a motel [with] multiple floor levels, generally the first number indicates what number floor you’re on,” Seltzer said. “[In the previous numbering system], you had 100 on the first level but you had 300 on the second level, and then you went over to the new pit and you had 200 on the first level and 400 on the second level, so there were some inconsistencies there, which can actually steer people in the wrong direction.”

When the system was changed, they realized it would be difficult for many of the staff and students in the building. Despite this, they knew the change was necessary, especially as major changes like this are extremely infrequent. A similar numbering system will be implemented at Glenbrook North sometime next summer.

“We knew it would be a change for [the] seniors [and] we knew it would be a change for our teachers, but in general a more logical [and] coherent flow to the building was understood and needed, because [South] is a big school,” Wright explained. “This is the type of project you do once in a generation. We’ve met our peak enrollment, [and] we’re not projected to get any bigger. The old plan was a lot of add-ons over time, [but] now we’re at a place in the lifespan of the school to address that. Glenbrook North is going to go through a similar process, and hopefully they’ll have an installation next summer.”

One of the main struggles for students, and seniors especially, is that they were forced to refamiliarize themselves with the school, while having to refocus both from the summer and Covid-19. Senior Erik Vagil really struggled with the changes at the beginning of the school year. 

“[The room number changes] made the school unfamiliar,” Vagil explained. “It was really hard to find my classes at first.” 

Vagil found that other students struggled the same as he has, and he really doesn’t think the changes have had any benefits for the students. 

“Generally [students’] consensus is either that [the change] didn’t affect them, or [the school] shouldn’t have changed [the room numbers],” Vagil said. “Nobody’s been particularly positive about the change; [students are] either neutral or negative.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, other students and teachers have felt like the change to the room numbers brought unexpected positives. English teacher Debbie Cohen found the changes brought the school together. She felt like she got to interact with the GBS community in ways she wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

“The first day of school was a little bit challenging, not in a negative way, in a sort of sweet team-building kind of way,” Cohen said. “Any time a student would shamefacedly admit that they needed help finding someplace, it gave me this awesome moment of being like, ‘Yeah, I don’t really know either, but let’s figure this out together.’ There was kind of a sweetness in having to show kids it’s okay to ask for help, even in just locating themselves in the building.”

Overall, Cohen felt that the teachers, at least, handled this new system very well, even with the unusual circumstances wrought by Covid-19. She felt that this system brought unexpected changes, but that it was if anything, a positive start to a unique and much-anticipated school year.

She said, “We all took it in stride, trying to learn the new system, and then trying to help students as best we can, that’s what we do.”