Remodel of Wa-Hi necessary for learning


The proposed remodel of Walla Walla High School needs community support.

I am a science teacher at Wa-Hi, teaching advanced placement biology and honors freshman science in a classroom that lacks laboratory infrastructure. The room does not have Bunsen burners, outlets for microscopes, laboratory space or a lab demonstration desk.

The room does have one sink that 36 students can share. My colleague, who teaches anatomy and physiology, does not even have a sink. The only way his students are able to wash their dissecting trays is to use the sinks in the bathrooms.

The current infrastructure does not allow for learning opportunities that are basic in a high school science curriculum. The lack of Bunsen burners deprives my students of laboratory experiences that are basic in science.

This week, my freshmen were unable to complete a protocol that required them to measure the melting point of several salts. To use microscopes in biology, students drag furniture to the wall to reach the outlets for power strips and extension cords that create a trip hazard.

There is inadequate ventilation for working with chemicals, so I omit certain protocols to keep students safe. Even worse, there is inadequate temperature control for student learning.

When the outside temperature climbs to 80 degrees, student motivation sinks because our building is not air conditioned. I have three box fans in my room that make so much noise that students strain to hear my instruction. The noise makes classroom discussions impossible.

Here is why our community should support the Wa-Hi bond: These students are our town's kids.

Open the Union-Bulletin and read about their accomplishments in academics, debate, athletics, music and theater. When I read about our students, I practically levitate with pride. Our students not only deserve a first-class science education, but they deserve a first-class high school that will allow teachers to provide student learning experiences that their peers are receiving in neighboring towns.

Please support Wa-Hi students by voting "yes" on the bond to remodel their school. Still skeptical? Go on a patron tour.

Talk to the students while you are there. Compare what you see to what you experienced in high school and what it should be in 2012. It should be better in 2012. Is it?

Peggy Payne

Walla Walla



barracuda says...


We need to wait and see where the gap the loss of CP students will leave behind......
Yes, we might need to rebuild, but where the needs might be changed....
It is way too much money for now....

Posted 11 December 2012, 8:25 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Teachers educate not structures. Remodeling would make more sense in this economy that spending millions of dollars.

Posted 12 December 2012, 6:22 a.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

I think we need to hold off also. No need to remodel a school for 2000 students, when 300-400 will be leaving in a couple of years. $60M+ is a bit much also. I understand the need, but is there a need for a new weight room and outdoor track? I question that.

Posted 12 December 2012, 10:07 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Respectfully to "barracuda," the district *has* already adjusted for the CP student gap and reduced the size of this plan accordingly. Also, EVERY high school in Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Spokane has been rebuilt or remodeled in the last 30 years, and the recent projects have been for more money than this one. It's been 50 years here. It is not "way too much money for now." It is overdue.

And "namvet," yes, teachers "educate, not structures," but teachers teach better science with ventilation systems that work, and they teach more cost-effectively with double-pane windows and a modern H-vac system.

And "wwguy7," the $60M+ is what it costs to do the job right. Though it is a small part of the project, have you been in the current weight room? It is a small, ugly warehouse packed with free weights and lacks any sense of accessibility to the larger Wa-Hi population, whom we should encourage to use it and get in shape! The plan addresses so many long-neglected issues. It is time.

Posted 12 December 2012, 4:09 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

I respectfully disagree....
I will activly campaign my views as I am sure you will your views.

Posted 12 December 2012, 4:44 p.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

Yes sir, I have been in the current weight room. I spend 4 good years working out in there. Is it state of the art? No. Does it do what it is intended to do? Absolutely. There is no accessibility to the larger student population? How about all of the weight training classes that are offered?

Posted 13 December 2012, 9:41 a.m. Suggest removal

Chas says...

That would be how many different weight rooms since 1980?

Education is changing so quickly that the classroom as we know it may soon be gone. This would most especially effect the high school grade levels.

The lab vents are direly needed. But too much money and too large a project for too little value.

Posted 21 December 2012, 1:52 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

fatherof5 - try being taught an education in a one room school house in Minnesota in the winter time - and I realize we are in more modern times but I didn't turn out to bad even if the temp did get in the 30 below range. Just saying!

Posted 12 December 2012, 7:25 p.m. Suggest removal

notpeggyhuntington says...

namvet60-did you ever consider that fatherof5 may have also been taught in a similar one room school house in a northern tier state? Perhaps he wants our community's children to have a better school than he had. Just saying!

Posted 12 December 2012, 10:24 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Point taken, namvet60. I bet it felt good to get out of the snow even if it meant being in class. That said, you could also heat your school with a bundle of wood that cost your district some labor and an ax (did the students stack the wood? ... not a bad skill to learn), whereas we are currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to heat an enormous amount of space where *each* classroom has 200 square feet of single-paned windows and *each* has doors that open and close all day long to the elements outside. The bond makes the classroom doors all interior and brings the windows up to code. And while maybe our kids aren't as hardy as the Minnesota kids from the 1950s, it also creates at atmosphere that is more conducive to learning.

I bet there were some great advantages to the one room school houses, where you got to know everyone VERY well and learned to deal with the lack of central air conditioning and so on, not to mention dealing with a lack of science labs and computer labs, etc. but our kids are competing with other kids for colleges and jobs that require certain skills and experiences that weren't necessary 50 years ago when Wa-Hi was built. In the long run, I am persuaded that we'll be dramatically more cost efficient and educationally effective with this bond.

Posted 13 December 2012, 8 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Again...... Too much too soon!
We are losing 20-25% of our income from the student body. CP students are leaving a big gap in our budget.
We cannot afford this bond, WWFD station, and Police Station bonds all voted in with-in a few years.... We have to pay off something first!
Oh, what about the annual/yearly attempt at a pool bond....
What about the roads we travel every day to get our children to Wa-hi? We are about to get a bond for those too.
I encourage everyone to consider voting no! We need to wait a few years.
Also, please dont assume my opinions are formed from lack of knowledge.... I have tried to learn about this vote.... But, sorry, my investigation is leading my in a different direction that yours.

Posted 13 December 2012, 7:40 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

The students of this community have been educated in this structure for many years and then all of a sudden with the economy in a recession (with this Administration possibly a depression shortly) what is the rush? There are already multiple bonds and levies on the tax rolls now - SO - what is problem with waiting a few years so we can clean up some of those before diving head first into an abyss. I have stated in the past that you cannot squeeze blood out of a turnip and I'm way passed that stage!

Posted 14 December 2012, 6:21 a.m. Suggest removal

benwentz says...

I don't know if this applies to this particular case, but the reason why a lot of municipalities are starting new construction right now is due to low construction costs resulting from a lack of demand in the private sector. It's the same reason why construction cranes are popping up all over Pullman and the WSU campus despite skyrocketing tuition.

Posted 15 December 2012, 4:21 p.m. Suggest removal

Tallyrand says...

The main point is that the school is long overdue for remodel. I believe my property taxes will go up about 76 cents a day. I think I can find a way to handle that in order to help our kids to compete in the 21st Century with adequate heating and ventilation in the school, electrical outlets in the classrooms, a science lab where they can do real science, a safer environment. Now is the time to do this. Let's get beyond our own narrow and immediate self-interest. Improve our schools and our community.

Posted 20 December 2012, 11:27 a.m. Suggest removal

Jo99362 says...

Perhaps Wa-Hi should have a bond for completely redoing the Science/Math building separate from the rest of the buildings. Why don't these plans have 2-story options? Seems more feesible if you build UP, especially the academic classrooms/counseling.

Posted 20 December 2012, 2:40 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Jo, you ask a good question. My understanding is that there are a few reasons for doing it the way it is being proposed. First, because there are multiple needs across the campus, *one* bond *one* time would mean a campus disruption for a couple of years, rather than ongoing disruptions for many years if they ran multiple bonds. Second, running a bond is a big endeavor and a distraction for the district. Let's do it once and get the focus back on education. (That said, Lincoln HS needs to be addressed soon too.) Third, the cost per project goes down when it is all done at once. Fourth, this bond WILL make better use of the 2nd floors that already exist in these buildings, but it saves money by using the existing "bones" including the roofs already there. Hope that helps.

Posted 20 December 2012, 6:23 p.m. Suggest removal

nelly9294 says...

[Walking tour of Wa-Hi. As a student attending Wa-Hi i just ask you watch this video before you make your final decision.][1]


Posted 21 December 2012, 7:08 p.m. Suggest removal

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