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Students Sound Off on the State of State High

by on May 17, 2014 11:45 AM

As the mother of two kids under age 10, I've wondered what kind of high school they'll inherit: a crumbling relic or a dynamic space that matches the ethos of this town.

I've done my homework, attending a presentation about the May 20 referendum, reading articles, watching videos about the project and following updates on social media.

But to uncover what's truly at stake, I decided to talk to students and, with the help of another mother, found a few willing to share their experiences. Blink, and in a few short years, my kids — and the rest of the kids in this town — will be these kids.

Ella Misangyi, State High sophomore

The first thing I'd fix is the bathrooms. They are really terrible. Most of the stalls don't have locks on them and don't stay closed. I guess I'm used to it, but when I'm in there I'm thinking, This is really terrible. I shouldn't have to go in a stall and hold the door closed because it doesn't close itself. The faucets don't work very well, and some of the paper towel holders are falling off the walls.

Some rooms are really hot and some are really cold. In my English classroom, we have a heating vent that blows cold air year-round. My teacher lined up 20 dictionaries across the entire thing to block the cold air.

One of the most surprising things I ever saw was when one of the water fountains broke and flooded one of the hallways. The water was a couple of inches deep. It's sort of ridiculous. Another surprising thing was when the jazz band director told us there was a huge hole in the wall in the choir room and a bunch of snow was blowing through. They made the hole smaller, but it's still there.

Jack Sheehan, State High freshman

In the winter, the pipes in my health classroom exploded, and there was hot and cold water everywhere. Luckily it happened over winter break, and so there wasn't anyone there. But the health teachers lost a ton of their paperwork, and their books were damaged. We couldn't be in our health classroom for a week or two, which made the schedule a little confusing. The day we got back in, there was an opening in the ceiling that you just didn't sit near because you didn't know what was going to fall out of there.

The classrooms are kind of weird. Like the upstairs classrooms — it almost feels like there was a lobby area and they just put up drywall and made two or three classrooms in a hallway. It seems like if you bump into the walls they'll just fall apart. It doesn't seem like a very safe thing to have in school. I've seen people punch holes through them on accident.

The bathrooms are not ideal. Some of the stalls don't shut completely, so that's not a fun thing to have to worry about.

The locker-room situation for various sports is not ideal. It's a little embarrassing when we go to visit other teams that are of the same caliber as State High and they have nice locker rooms. And when they come here we don't have the facilities to hold them. They have to get changed in the bathroom of the administration building. And we're in that bathroom, too. So you end up with all of us in one tiny, crammed bathroom or kids changing in the bleachers.

For the most part, State High is a great place to learn, although there are some things that are lacking — mostly the facilities. I'm hopeful that something is done. I can live with it for the time I'm here. But education is changing. The things that worked in 1950 aren't necessarily going to work in 2020.

Morgan Costello, State High Class of 2013

The flooding was the biggest issue, because it's just so obvious and the water would be everywhere. Everything would smell weird from the mold. The auditorium would flood and certain classrooms had to be closed. I remember one day during senior year when we were crossing the street, there must have been a foot of water and everyone's pants were wet up to mid-thigh. A hallway flooded and it was really bad. Everyone was tweeting things like "Classic State High" and commenting on how old the school is. It's just ridiculous.

The classrooms were always too hot or too cold — there was never a comfortable temperature. It definitely made it hard to concentrate. You'd either be sweating and fanning yourself or carrying your jacket around in the winter because it was freezing.

There were a lot of rumors. We heard about sewage, or some sort of murky water, coming up from the water fountain and teachers getting sick from the asbestos. I don't know if teachers are really sick from the building, but I mostly feel bad for them, because they spend more time there than anyone else and it's really affecting them a lot. We're only there for four years.

People in this community should vote for a new school. We have great academics and overall the school is great, but the building is falling apart. This has been going on for a while now. I think it's time.

Michele Marchetti is a freelance writer and the former managing editor of Prior to moving to State College, she spent more than 10 years writing for national magazines. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Glamour, U.S. News & World Report, Runner's World, Good Housekeeping, Working Mother, Yoga Life and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Follow her on Twitter at or contact her at [email protected]
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