Courtyards should not be out of bounds

Photo courtesy of Celeste Pallares
Every day, students can be seen passing close to the windows to get a sliver of warmth. A few panes of glass and some bricks are all that separate students from our school’s untouched potential.

Every day, thousands of WS students pass by two vacant courtyards, a simple yet impactful investment that can improve students’ mental health and provide alternative resources that is being overlooked everyday. 

Rarely occupied by classes, the purpose of these courtyards is unknown to most, with some students never stepping foot in them even after four years at WS. Teachers have to request access to the courtyards from security or main office personnel due to the doors being locked, and although this process may seem simple, it can be time-consuming, and very few teachers take advantage of it due to fickle weather. Therefore, creating a system that allows for more freedom will not only provide teachers with the opportunity to create dynamic lessons, but allow students to be more excited for classes through a change of pace and renewing environment. 

While the courtyards are only occasionally put to use, many students would like these spaces to be more accessible as an alternative to the crowded lunchroom and library– specifically for lunch blocks and senior free periods. Providing a new and refreshing outlet for students would not only help with overcrowding but can even improve many students’ mental health. 

Many developing studies– including one from the University of Oregon– reveal a correlation between higher levels of Vitamin D and the creation of serotonin. This is something that is severely lacking in the cafeteria with its limited light flow, creating a less reviving atmosphere. While a courtyard directly outside the cafeteria is also accessible, it is fairly small and has fewer natural features than the two courtyards that are currently inaccessible to students.

Additionally, opening up the courtyards accompanied by a small investment in outdoor board games or alternative seating will foster healthier socialization and help students limit their technology use. The large and open space can create a safe space for students to destress and interact in a more lighthearted way. The mental health benefits of unplugging from social media and stepping away from academic pressures for even a mere half an hour can greatly improve moods and the overall well-being of students. 

As the weather continues to become optimal for outdoor activities, WS has the opportunity to take full advantage of untapped resources for the betterment of students. According to the Student Life and Activities department, all that is needed to make this a reality is a louder voice from the student body. The SGA or other clubs must simply provide a proposal and “just ask!” A simple reallocation of security, a small investment in outdoor equipment, and a student representative are all that is needed to take in the sun and improve Spartans’ moods.