Counseling Suite's New Look
If you’ve been in the Counseling Suite recently, you’ve probably noticed a marked difference in the layout of the entire space. The desks lining the right wall have disappeared, and the table beside the entrance has been relocated. In their place are a new set of couches and Ms. Stone’s desk. While this new change may seem rather unremarkable, both the students and the staff that frequent the space have their own takes on the new layout.
To first understand why these adjustments are significant, we have to understand why students were drawn to the Guidance Suite in the first place. To most people, the space serves as a sort of limbo between the bustling hallways and the quiet security of their counselor’s office. Some students considered it one of the few quiet places to study on campus.
While Edgemont currently has two cafeterias and a library (including a designated quiet room), it’s no secret that there is no shortage of noise in any of these spaces - most prominently displayed during lunch periods. As a result of the new schedule, the number of students needing places to reside during their lunch period has increased dramatically.
Though unlike these hubs of buzzing social activity, the quiet, cozy atmosphere of the Guidance Suite proved itself to be a perfect environment for focusing on school work. Unfortunately, with the removal of the private working spaces once available in the office, some students are frustrated with the apparent lack of available space to do work with minimized distractions.
Two individuals directly impacted by the change in layout are Ms. Stone and Ms. Cook, the office assistants of the Guidance Department. While their working spaces had originally been about 3 feet from each other, the desks are now separated by about 15 feet, resulting in some unforeseen issues in communication. Ms. Cook described that her working relationship with Ms. Stone is a partnership that requires quick, direct communication that can be achieved simply by close proximity to one another.
With the new distance, the two often have to make phone calls (despite being in the same room) to keep up with the swift process of checking in multiple students, as well as to maintain the essential conversation required to keep the Guidance Suite running efficiently. This lack of easy communication sometimes can result in students being checked in twice or not at all. It has also been cited that there are no current plans for the room to change any further, despite its slightly awkward appearance with a large empty space where couches used to be.
While it's easy to see the downsides of the new changes, there is great value to be seen in the adjustments. Both Ms. Stone and Ms. Cook agreed that students’ need for privacy is a top priority of the counseling suite that isn’t necessarily met when students without an appointment gather to study. The need for confidentiality was one of the most significant driving forces behind changing the arrangement of the Counseling Suite, and it does a fantastic job at accomplishing this goal.
While to many of us, these changes went unnoticed, students’ experiences with the Counseling Suite’s new layout actually reveal some current pressing issues that challenge our school. This predicament has helped exhibit Edgemont’s lack of space available for quiet study complete with a desk and chair (some students’ solutions of studying on the hallway floors). If our main issue is that there are too many students and not enough places for them to go, one way to remedy this issue could be to create more spaces intended for social use, which would, in turn, free up the spaces designated for silence (such as the library’s quiet room).
All students who spend their time in the library for social purposes aren't there with the intent of distracting others; instead, they have nowhere else to go. Rather than having students in need of a non-distracting environment populate the spaces intended for other purposes, such as the counseling suite, we may be able to find some relief from overcrowding by introducing new spaces dedicated to socializing, similar to that of our former senior lounge.
With the incoming warm weather, it is likely that we will see more people enjoying the sunny outdoors with their friends, freeing up more and more space for those of us who wish to stay inside. Until then, it’s important that we all remain mindful of the needs of our peers around us and whisper or at least muffle our voices when we chat.