Growing Pains


Sara Bouhamid, Editor-in-Chief

“What am I gonna wear?”

“Will I have lunch with my friends?”

“Did I say ‘present’ weird during roll call?”

The anxiety engendered by attending the first day of school prompts innumerable questions. The most prevalent of all being, “Where am I gonna sit?” Us hyper-aware students can all agree that your first day seating holds heavy implications, whether assigned to you or chosen. In most instances, this coveted chair is yours until May, classmates have a near primal defense in claiming their territory. However, the aforementioned inquiry was answered for many students this fall at Venice High: their seat was nowhere at all. Our exponential increase in class size placed students on floors, in three floating class rooms and, reportedly, bean bags in lieu of desks.

At an approximated population of 609, this year’s freshman class size has received the title of “Largest incoming student body ever.” Sound familiar? That’s because every freshman class for the last four years has usurped the ranking from its predecessor. Yet, in all four years of my attendance, we have never weaponized our elbows to shove through the traffic jam mosh-pit at the stairwell between classes. We have never broken a sweat as consequence of packing 34 students and their body heat emissions into a classroom meant for 25. And we have never read enough “To be announced” teacher labels to abdicate our FBI detective tendencies in doing the annual evaluation entirely. When our new campus was constructed, the suggested capacity was set at 1,991 to “hold us comfortably.” Our current 2,250 class size -approximately 260 warm, pubescent bodies over- has definitely left us students feeling more than uncomfortable. DIT and digital design instructor, Mrs. Zubyk, highlighted the predicament associated with disregarding the 25-student class size amendment placed by the department of education, stating, “students in smaller class sizes have more of an opportunity to get 1 on 1 help and understanding of subject matter. When there are larger class sizes, students don’t feel that the extra help and attention because it’s distributed amongst so many kids.” Although enrollment is prioritized based on districting, families have relocated to Osprey-Venice like moths to a flame. Principal Jackson attributes this increase to our student population with, “a lot of housing divisions are going up throughout Osprey, Nokomis and Venice in particular.” But how do we accommodate students when an unstoppable force, the gargantuan construction and development that devours every unused lot of Venetian land in its wake, meets an immovable object, the current structure of our campus?

As Assistant Principal of Administration, Lindsay Gallof, put it, “By being all hands on deck when it comes to finding a space appropriate for students and teachers.” Within less than a month, our administration had swiftly rectified the obstacles brought on by scarce classrooms and abundant class size. The district preemptively placed ten new teachers, six of them in the science department, in anticipation of this school year and Venice High has hired long-term substitutes to relieve overflowing classes as well. The school has additionally gone from three floating classrooms to one by repurposing TEL labs into teaching spaces. However, these short-term solutions still leave science teachers without adequate lab settings and Mr.Blubaum without a location to facilitate the standardized testing that occurs year-round. While implementing an intended additional wing would alleviate the World War 3 reenactment in our hallways between classes, this development will not see fruition for another three to five years. In the meantime, the school district has been working with Venice High to weigh out long term solutions, potentially including portable classrooms, more TEL labs being converted into classrooms, and absorbing the STC buildings as classrooms instead.

With our “A” School status reaching its seven year streak and 2017-18 bringing home three team state championship titles, there’s no question as to why Venice High School has become the number one choice for new families in our district. Dealing with growing pains will surely continue to be an annual event.