A review of the Friday before winter break

Mark Williams, Staffer

Lake Oswego High School held an all-day “secure and hold” position on Dec. 16 in response to a school shooting threat. Over a 1000 students were trapped in their classrooms, the library and one lucky student was even locked in the new Zen Den. During the events of Thursday all students looked expectantly at their email inboxes for instructions on the next day. The message soon came: Friday, Dec. 17 effectively became an “optional” A day with no new instructions or exams. The lasting impact of Friday, Dec. 17 was teacher schedules. B days were already ahead of A days (due to some pretty mild rain one day) and with this fake A day some B day classes became two class periods ahead of schedule. A period AP Calculus, for example, had to work to catch up with two B day periods while other teachers opted to just “burn” a B day to let A days catch up. With finals week rapidly approaching, many teachers have had to adjust their schedules either by skipping a review day or choosing to not cover some material altogether and wait until the second semester.

The first observations arriving at school were chilling. It was a foggy day, and I could not see more than 200 feet in front of my car. Upon parking at a friend’s house, I noticed only one person walking to school out of the maybe 15 I see every day. In the church parking lot across from the school only one car remained compared to the usual dozen. At the infamous traffic light on Country Club Road, the crowd of 40 students that typically exists at the light was reduced to only one. The left turn lane into the high school that has historically stretched as far as the eye could see was completely empty. The situation felt eerie: had I seen the scene in a picture without context, I would have made the assumption that it was early on a Sunday morning. The priceless student parking spots were almost completely empty. 

One semblance of normalcy was Tracy Chalpoutis holding open the door as she does consistently every morning. In the main hall around 15 students were present, contrary to the several hundred students that crowd the main hall each morning. Walking to first period with Gerrit Koepping, I entered a classroom that was completely void of any inhabitants. Only two students were in the classroom. During the very productive class that involved heavy amounts of geography quizzes, teachers came and visited and all boasted of their class sizes. Ranging from one to four students, teachers all had nearly empty classrooms. First period study hall, which is supposed to have 59 students, only had a single student present.

The passing period was purely comical. Walking through the halls after 4 p.m. on a Wednesday may have yielded more crowded hallways. The second floor “bridge” that gives the term “gridlocked” new meaning was nearly empty. In Christopher Hubley’s second period class, a substitute greeted me who stated that in her over 30 years of teaching classes in the same hallway, she had never seen a day like this. Eventually, a total of three other students trickled in as well as math teacher Daniel Kumprey, who offered to take some students into his class if they would like. Taking him up on his offer, he showed a 1951 edition movie of “Scrooge.” Any hope of academic instruction was terminated by the district emails as well as the minimal attendance.

After the bell rang, the question of lunch hung in the air. The typical balance of students clustered in groups around the hallways had vanished. The cafeteria was nearly empty and the hallways became desolate. Many B lunch students just came to A lunch and many students, along with some teachers, also started walking out the doors in an attempt to go home early.

Third period went similarly, with most teachers effectively dismissing their students to roam the halls of the school. By this point, bells and any schedule seemed to fade from existence as “B lunch” seemed to start early. Friends started to congregate in groups in various classrooms and concern for students being in incorrect classes rapidly faded. At B lunch only four tables in the cafeteria were occupied. Upon entering the last class of the day some teachers had just gone home simply because they had no students or had students who asked to transfer to a different class or just leave. I spent the last part of my day in the library just waiting for school to end. As no productivity happened, teachers and students alike basically agreed the day was useless and only existed for paperwork purposes.