Sardines or Students? Not Enough Room in Stairwells


Dennis Racket

Sophomore Charlie Olson has to endure the jam-packed North Atlanta stairwells on a daily basis.

Let’s discuss the following: things that come to mind when you think of cramped spaces. There’s, lets say, Music Midtown. Busy, loud, packed with millions of dancing people. How about sardines? They’re cramped in that little tin can, right? And — what else? — there’s the standard subway car in New York City or Tokyo. But students at North Atlanta High School have the ultimate cramped experience, every day, four times a day. They endure the heights of paranoia-inducing spaces in our building’s hyper-congested stairwells and elevators.

Allow me to set the stage as to what they endure: 11 floors. Nearly 1900 students. Our impressively congested and impossible to navigate stairwells with the clock tick tick ticking down from 8 minutes. Going down stairs is a feat of coordination in and of itself, but trying to do it surrounded by hundreds of other pushy, impatient, and stressed peers should be recognized by Guinness World Records. Not to mention the elevators and their inefficiency. If you manage to get on one and still make it to class on time, you know your guardian angel is working on overtime today.

Atlanta Public Schools spent $150 million, I’ll repeat, $150 million on North Atlanta, making it the most expensive public school building project in Georgia history. Yet they couldn’t afford to take the time and plan out our transportation routes better than they did. My options have been limited to: 1. An incredibly busy staircase that leads to me being pushed, shoved, scared and/or intimidated, 2. Elevators that will surely either be stuck, overcrowded, or arrive at my designated floor after the bell has rung, and finally, 3. The emergency stairwell —  oh wait, I forgot, we can’t use it. Why can’t we use that, again? Eh: whatever.

Now this may seem like useless whining, but there really are solutions to the congestion conundrum. Great word! We do have another stairwell that could be opened up for use, albeit a little less roomy than the main stairwell, but it still could help alleviate some of the stress. We could also try to really condense the floors by grade level. It is hard to do because of how diverse every students schedule is, but if implemented well could really help transportation. Finally, because of the new 30 minutes added onto our school day, adding a bit more time for transitions doesn’t seem that unattainable.

School is already a stressful enough environment, and although it is a small complaint, not having to deal with masses of pushing people would definitely make the day a bit more bearable. There are multiple solutions to this issue and if people become more mindful, the halls will move just as swiftly as APS cancelling school to prepare for snow.