Lawrence Central High School was built and then re-established at 7300 E 56th Street in 1963. The HVAC system currently used is part of LC’s original construction. Over the years, students have watched (and felt) the deteriorating nature of the school’s climate control. Since Lawrence voters passed a $191 million referendum in late 2019, students have been looking forward to a functional new air conditioning system. Recently, after complaints from students, teachers, and staff, temporary AC units have been installed around the school.
After an outreach on social media, many students offered takes on the subject. One LC Junior wrote “I passed out in pre-cal this morning [because] it was so hot.” Another wrote “It’s so hot that I can barely learn.” Temperatures reaching well into the 80’s inside have led to problems bigger than general discomfort. Miss Thibodeau has found her classroom to be especially unbearable, as have her students. While incredibly thankful for the recent work of LC administration (especially Mr. McGarrell), she very clearly discussed her need for improvement: “I would describe my classroom as HOT HOT HOT! While I am EXTREMELY grateful for the recent improvements, the first three weeks of school were physically, emotionally, and psychologically DRAINING.”
Administration has started making the best improvements they can. They started by reaching out to teachers with a Google Doc asking for especially hard-hit teachers to explain their situation.
Miss Thibodeau responded regularly, but at the peak of her classroom’s problems, on August 20, 2021, she responded with her “longest response to date.”
“I am standing in my classroom on this especially warm Friday, dressed in only a t-shirt and gym shorts. The seven fans scattered around my classroom are all turned to their highest setting. I have had sweat dripping from the base of my neck all the way down my back since I set foot in the building at 8:00 AM. My mask is damp from the sweat accumulating around my nose and mouth… and I do not see an end in sight. I have also gulped down five bottles of water today… and it is only 11:00 AM. HELP!”
Also grateful for Mr. McGarrell’s concern, Ms. Legge responded to a request for comment. She noted the effectiveness of the temporary AC units and discussed the old age of the HVAC system. She wrote that LC staff “has been working diligently for the past few years to keep it in working order; however, as parts have been dying the past few years, because of the obsolescence of the system, it has been difficult to keep up. And while the new construction might be adding on to existing problems with the HVAC system, the new construction could not have come at a better time.”
Since the beginning of the writing of this story, the AC problem has improved significantly, elucidating the school’s ability and willingness to prioritize safety and comfort of its students. Until the end of construction taking place at Lawrence Central High School, students will be anticipating other changes, such as updated parking lots, cafeterias, science labs, and security systems, which will help make LC a safer and more efficient learning space.