by Ann H. '22 and Fiona L. '24
Among the schools in Seattle, Lakeside is known for its beautiful grounds. Newcomers say how it feels as if they are visiting a college campus. And it’s true, the drive into Red Square is beautiful, especially in the fall, when the trees are full of leaves transforming from green to brick red, matching the buildings that surround them. This fall, as Lakesiders drove into Red Square for their school supply pick up, they were met with a surprising new addition — four, to be exact — sitting off to their right, on what used to be the softball field. On top of the newly laid gravel sat four pristine, grey portables, begging to be asked, “What are those doing here?”
According to Mr. Dawkins, Lakeside’s Director of Facilities, the idea of putting in portables came from a committee, led by Head of School Mr. Noe, on how best to follow CDC safety guidelines. The committee came up with the idea of using portable classrooms in the spring of 2020, and the four new additions to the softball field were installed during the week of August 24th. Mr. Dawkins reported that each portable measures 28 by 64 feet, and is being leased from Pacific Mobile Structures Inc. The portables were put into place “so we can properly follow the CDC guidelines,” says Mr. Dawkins, but are not intended to stay forever. “They are not permanent,” he says, and will “be leased as long as COVID dictates, per CDC social distancing guidelines.”
The portables will be used for math and language classes that normally occupy upstairs Allen Gates and Bliss Hall, buildings which Mr. de Grys, Lakeside’s Academic Dean, says are “too small for social distanced teaching & learning” as per CDC guidelines. For similar reasons, English classes will be moved to The Paul G. Allen Athletics Center, and any other classes with a similar problem could also be relocated. Classes with big enough learning spaces, like most science and arts classes, will stay put.
According to both Mr. Dawkins and Mr. de Grys, this is not Lakeside’s first time having portables on campus. From 2009 to 2014, during the renovations of Bliss Hall, Allen Gates, and the construction of the new athletics center, Lakeside leased portables three separate times. Nine years later, the school has found themselves once again with rented portables. While Lakeside can’t make any permanent alterations to the structures, Mr. de Grys recalled how past students had personalized the portables: “Last time we had portables, we let students name the different portables, and they chose names like Narnia, the Death Star, Middle Earth, and Sparta.” Mr. de Grys hopes students will once again rise up to the occasion of decorating the new additions to campus with signs and anointing them names; in short, making these seemingly out-of-place objects come to belong on our campus.