Book Room Bedlam

Madison Fernandez, ‘17

            Plan your tactics, gather your supplies, and make sure your timing is right. No, this isn’t getting ready for battle, but rather securing a spot on the Book Room line.  Although it doesn’t have the same aura of anticipation as waiting on line for the new iPhone or pair of Jordan’s, the Book Room holds the prerequisites students need for their classes this semester. Not all classes this year are using textbooks, but the majority of BHSEC’s student body found themselves waiting on the line at one point or another not for a new release, but copies of their workbooks. The question is, was it more difficult to obtain supplies this year than previous years, or is the hectic atmosphere a welcoming standard for BHSEC students’ first few weeks back from vacation?

            Walking in for the first few mornings, the second floor hall buzzed with students from all grades trying to find time to squeeze into the book room. “Book Room Closes at 3:30,” said the sign, but students tried any and every opportunity they had to get the wait out of the way. The line wrapped almost to the end of the corridor with students and faculty members trying to get through the fracas. Ms. Stemmer, whose attendance office is right across the hall, said, “It was actually a little more civilized this year… there was less screaming. Still, there was some commotion.”

            Ms. Blanca, the current facilitator of the book room, agreed with Ms. Stemmer. She described the lines being the same as previous years. It is important to note that “normal procedure” is considered numerous amounts of students standing in a single file line groaning about their books. The process may be a struggle for some students, but we don’t make it the easiest for the faculty to control. “I told them to be quiet, but only some listened,” Ms. Blanca said about regulating the lines. “When there were less students waiting, it was more controllable. A small noise is okay, but once you have that, it grows and turns into a big noise.”

            Why were the students making such a “big noise”? One problem, specifically for the freshmen, was that they were unable to obtain their books. IDs and schedules are necessary to receive books, but a number of freshmen didn’t have both of those requirements. This past Summer Bridge, current freshmen took their ID card photos. When they came back in September to pick them up, many found they were never created. One camera broke after Summer Bridge and the data on it would not load. “They kept losing my picture. I took it at Summer Bridge, and then retook it the first day of school, then they lost that one, then I took another one. They retook my retake!” explained Arianna Martinez, a freshman. Some students took their ID photo four times, and only attained it in the last week of September. Other freshmen were confused as to what day they were supposed to go on in order to get books. “They kept telling me to come back tomorrow,” said 9th grader Zoe Fruchter. “Some people went on the wrong days, and that made the line longer. I never knew exactly when to go.” Scheduled days were switched because of the ID card problem, which also caused confusion. Although some found it frustrating, others were able to navigate the long lines to either go at the end of the day or the last day when the rush passed. Unlike some upperclassmen, freshmen didn’t get their books in the summer before classes commenced. Older BHSEC students also found the Book Room to be chaotic. “It was a little unorganized and the Book Room didn’t know what books we needed,” said Angeliesse Acevedo, a Y2. Others found it to be no different than previous years- hectic and time consuming.

            A change to the Book Room this year was the absence of Ms. Sawick, who usually oversees it. She wanted it to operate in the manner of a college bookstore, in accordance with the students’ courses and mindsets. Ms. Sawick was in charge of this for the past eight years, until she had to take more responsibilities in the evaluation of teachers. Although she is no longer in charge of the book room, she is still the one who shaped this beginning of the year tradition for all students.

            Whether you were one of many students who had difficulties in the book room, or you managed to get your books easily, it’s something students must do every year. If books were simply handed to the students, students wouldn’t have the same sense of responsibility and independence as they do now, putting this semester’s books in their lockers for the first time. Even with the adversities, they can use this experience to help while waiting on line for the next hottest release of a video game. The Book Room will look calm and resourceful in comparison.

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