The Sharpless building is relatively unremarkable, with a tan stone façade and basic windows and doors. But there is something remarkable by the front doors; an array of colorful backpacks “decorating” the front of the Sharpless. The thing is, they’re not supposed to be there.
A GFS 7th or 8th grade student typically has anywhere from five to seven classes, and at least three to four classes per day. Some of these classes may not be in the same building, may not require a binder, or are broken up by a recess period. And since students can’t bring their bags everywhere, there has to be a place where bags wait for their owners. And since most lockers can barely hold a couple of binders, and are too far from some classes to make it possible for a student to pick up their bag while still being on time. So a natural solution for backpack storage is the outside of the building in which your next class is (or a building on the way to your next class). But there are quite a few problems with this approach.
First of all, as Janet reminds us, the backpacks pose a fire hazard. If there is an evacuation, the backpacks complicate it and pose a tripping and fire spreading hazard. Also, another concern is for students’ belongings. Many GFS students, perhaps more so in the Upper School but still some in the Middle School, bring laptops, Kindles,tablets, and phones to school. Most of these gadgets are usually kept in the backpack. However, if your backpack is at the bottom of the pile (literally), these devices may get damaged. There are countless stories of laptops or phones crushed under a mound of backpacks, or ruined by the rain, or stolen out of their bags.
So, long story short, the outside of Sharpless is a bad place to put your bag. So where are you going to put your bag?
Janet Kalkstein has offered up some space in her room for students to put their backpacks in the past, but that might not be the best idea for students headed across the street, to Main, or to the bottom floor of Sharpless.
According to principal Sean Hamer, adding a central location for backpacks would require some students to shift their habits, especially on such a big campus. Hamer says that the best solution is for students to be organized, carrying only as many books in their bag as they need until the next break and dropping off their bags in classes beforehand.
Despite the dangers to belongings and people that can be posed by backpacks outside of the Sharpless, the administration will have to just keep thinking on this hot topic. But for now, students are just going to have to step it up and be more organized instead of using the outside of Sharpless as a glorified dumping ground, for the sake of their possessions and the Middle School as a whole.