As MCHS concludes its final year as two separate 9-12 grade campus, students and staff look back at what East and West Campus meant
May 24, 2021
It is fall of 2022. A sophomore wanders the halls of the Upper Campus after coming from the Freshman Campus.
As they navigate the school, they find and explore the recent extension — The Center for Science, Technology and Industry — which feels like a part of a modern college campus. Their next class takes them through the dungeon, which feels like creepy, abandoned school hallways. As they walk through the hallways and climb up their grade’s tower, it finally feels like they belong. The new campus feels overwhelming, but soon it begins to feel like home — just like the Freshman Campus eventually felt the previous year.
Next school year in the fall of 2021, all students in going grades 10, 11, and 12 will experience a big change — the dissolution of East and West Campus and the creation of an Upper Campus and a Freshman Campus. And though the campus structure of District 156 will feel different, many hope that it will unite students more than ever before.
Though both campuses have been considered “one school” for decades, East and West Campuses have always had distinct cultures and have felt like separate schools to some. These Campus will come together led by Dr. Jeff Prickett as the Principal.
West Campus, which will take on the new name Upper Campus, will house all upperclassmen previously from both East and West. All freshmen will be learning at East Campus, which will be called the Freshmen Campus.
To support the new addition of students, over the past couple of years, West Campus has made plenty of new additions to the school.
The new expansion — named The Center for Science, Technology and Industry — consists of three newly added levels catering to math classes, career and technical education classes, science classes, and communication classes. These new additions will be impacting each class in plenty of ways, ultimately changing not only how students learn, but how they interact with their teachers, and each other.
With the new expansion comes new opportunities that upperclassmen from East and West will eventually have right at their fingertips. However, since changes are being made to how things have run at MCHS for a long time, both positive and negative feelings are felt from the community.
The Freshman Campus
Incoming freshmen next year from MCHS’s feeder schools will be the first graduating class to start entirely at what will soon be known as the Freshman Campus. After spending their first year of high school at East, the will move to West, the Upper Campus, for sophomore, junior, and senior year.
Under this new structure, students will change schools after their freshman year, and some worry that so many transitions might be confusing.
“Freshman have to learn East Campus and, once they are comfortable and know where everything is, they will have to move onto the West Campus and relearn a whole other school that is now bigger with the new addition,” described Grace Hosford, a current freshman at West Campus.
Since all the freshmen will be alone together at East, many students are seeing it as an opportunity to discover themselves and support each other.
“I think it will give us a great opportunity to discover ourselves and what we are like being surrounded by people the same age,” explained Jia Shah, an eighth grader and incoming freshman. “We won’t feel judged or out of place. In the Freshman Campus, all of us are on the same page and we all are just trying to figure ourselves out, so it’s nice to know that all of us are going through the same thing.”
With middle schools merging into high school, students often don’t know each other due to being at different schools. “I think the merge could give the freshman an opportunity to learn their whole class,” described Hosford. “Students having the opportunity to get to know each other, they can make new friends and meet other people. “
The step from eighth grade to high school can be a difficult for some students. The new campus structure hopes to make this transition easier.
“Having a Freshman Campus will be nice to set our roots down in a high school environment and slowly ease our way into high school,” explained Grace Hunt, an incoming freshman,” explained Grace Hunt, an eighth grader and incoming freshman. “I hope to feel extra prepared for the Upper Campus by the end of the year.”
Students often look to upperclassmen for guidance and leadership, however without upperclassmen freshman might not have that opportunity. “I will miss being able to socialize with students in upper grades,” explained Hunt.
This could be a disadvantage for freshmen without having upperclassmen to look up to. This may lead to them later in their high school career feeling disconnected from a normal high school career — or make the transition to the upper campus more intimidating.
The Upper Campus
Though the new Freshman Campus feels like the biggest change of the upcoming school year, the Upper Campus will be a totally new experience for the students at both East and West, causing a mix of emotions, and will undoubtedly impact the most students.
“Personally, I think It might be exciting and maybe create more creativity,” says East Campus sophomore Lynda Rotundo, “just something new for us all to learn.”
The students at West Campus are equally as excited about the merge. “I think the schools merging will be good for the upperclassmen to feel more united both in and out of school,” says West junior Audrey Whitman. “It will definitely create a different environment amongst all of us.”
As curious as current East students seem, it will be a big change for them.
“For the most part, I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting new people with the merges of schools,” Rotundo leads. “I will miss East, though, because I’ve already learned my way around, and I like how each floor is brightly decorated with different colored lockers, which in a way makes east feel more ‘homier’ than West.”
Overall it will be a new experience for all of the students that are currently at East and West. Like anything new the feelings will be chaotic for a bit but will eventually settle. The students, even with their concerns, are curious and hopeful about the merge.
“I’m just very excited about what’s to come,” says West Campus sophomore Joseph Sacramento. “I hope with the new addition we can utilize that to do great things at West.”
Change can be scary, and numerous MCHS staff and students will be adapting to changes in the 2021-22 school year.
With students moving permanently from East to West, adjusting is a major concern. West Campus is larger than ever, and will hold the majority of MCHS’ student population, making it more difficult to navigate for new and returning students.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, students spent the fall semester learning remotely. In late January, they finally made a return to in-person learning in a hybrid model, which allowed them to come to school twice a week. As a result of this, East Campus freshman have just gotten used to the layout of the school.
“I have just been able to step foot in this new school that ended up feeling like a new home, to now having to move to another school,” freshman Madelyn Hoffman described.
East Campus is significantly smaller than West, and has a less-complex layout. Some students are more worried about the size difference between the two schools.
“Shifting from a smaller school to a much bigger campus is a little intimidating,” Ava Dowell, a freshman at East, shared. Not only is the school much larger, but the amount of students will be larger as well. West will hold approximately 1,600 students in the upcoming school year.
The incoming freshmen will be the first group of students to use East as the freshmen-only campus. One of these future students, eighth grader Shah, explained her excitement. “I think it will allow the freshman to adapt to the new environment and the idea of high school.”
One stressor that will be eliminated by the campus changes is the shuttling between East and West. Currently, buses run between the schools to get students to classes that are only offered at one campus.
“I think the merge can help ease the pressure off of students by not having to transfer back and forth for classes as they figure out the changes of coming from middle school to high school,” freshman Hosford adds.
While some students are excited for the changes coming to the school, some are nervous about the adjustments they’ll have to make. From a freshman and upperclassmen campus, to teachers migrating and new additions, there’s plenty of change coming to MCHS, and there’s no way of knowing how well the changes will go until the first day of the new school year finally comes.