If you can’t stand the heat…

If you cant stand the heat...

Similar to the suffocating effect that the perfume of everybody’s weird aunt wears, DHS students have been greeted back to school this September by the smothering embrace of heat and humidity, like the dreaded, awkward hug that previously mentioned weird aunt gives at family reunions.

One of the most common complaints of DHS students is how intense the heat can become in our school without a proper air conditioning system. By default, teachers bring in fans for their classrooms. Most of the time this just moves around the hot air, if not providing a minor level of comfort.

I can be honest enough to say that in school during late June and early September, I dictate which clothes I wear based on what will show sweat stains the least.

The first four days of school, September 2, 3, 8, and 9, were particularly insufferable. I’m talking about the kind of heat that makes people leave butt-sweat marks on chairs and causes classrooms to evacuate to the library.

DHS hall monitor Paul Humason said, “Most teachers try to make accommodations, but there were obviously more classrooms where they couldn’t make accommodations. It [the heat] was very uncomfortable.”

Faculty and students are not only coming to the library for computers anymore, they are coming for teaching. DHS librarian Pamela King has seen several teachers giving lectures and using the white boards in the side section of the library.

According to Ms. King, normally 1-2 classes per block at most come into the library during the first few weeks of school. The heatwave has multiplied these numbers as teachers and students have become desperate for a breath of cool air.

On Wednesday, September 9, the library held three classes for block 1, two classes for block 2, and extremes of seven and five classes for blocks 3 and 4, respectively. On Thursday, September 10, there were four classes in the library during block 1, three classes during block 2, another five classes for block 3, and three classes for block 4.

The library was so full during block 3 on this day (the 10th), that they ran out of laptops for students, of which they have about 90. No laptops were left for kids who came in during lunch and 6-7 kids who were then in the library for a class had to go without laptops.

Not only is the heat making the classroom environment unpleasant, but it is negatively affecting the whole school when large groups must consolidate in communal places like the library, all in order to feel some relief.

Heat rises within buildings, which makes C-floor the hottest place to be in DHS. Senior Sam Hakeem said, “Blocks 3 and 4, I’m in the English hallway [located on C floor], and it is sweltering. I was literally dripping sweat. Even Mr. Caron said it was hot.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, September 8-9, New Britain High School and HALS Academy in Connecticut were dismissed at noon. Framingham High School, on Wednesday as well, released students at 10:50 a.m due to the school not being able to lower its temperature to a safe level during the heat wave. These early dismissals are rational and valid on the basis that a student’s performance level is heavily impacted by the temperature of their learning environment.

A study conducted by Westview High School in Beaverton, Oregon, proved the correlation between memory and cognitive abilities, and (temperature-affected) mood. Students were placed in different rooms set at various temperatures, given exams, and their scores were compared against the temperature of the room.

At 81 degrees, students scored an average of 72%. 81 degrees sounds like a refreshing arctic wind in comparison to the temperature of the school in the past few days. At 61 degrees, students scored an average of 76%. That climate sounds similar to DHS’s in the months of December through March. 72 degrees was found to be the optimal temperature for a learning environment, as students achieved an average score of 92%.

When I walk into school, the only things I am planning on worrying about are cramming for tests, finishing last-minute homework, and not falling on the stairs. Do I really need to add to that list, “passing out from heat stroke” or “leaving a puddle of sweat so large on the floor that some freshman slips and falls”?

It may not be in Dartmouth’s budget to install an air-conditioning system into the school, but at this point, I would settle for 1950’s paper church fans to be handed out at the main entrance.