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A New Light: When building new elementary school, officials should consider number of windows

Kelly Truax

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Each morning I arrive at school before the sun is up, attend each of my Gold Day classes without a single window and finally see the sun after 3:05 as I’m leaving the building to head to my car. Some days, I do decide to change my normal routine and make an effort to walk on the catwalk, in an effort to catch a quick glimpse of natural light. But for most of the day, my life does not coincide with the outside world. I know I am not alone in my lack of sunlight, as many students at this school experience very few windows in their classrooms. Of course, CHS is a large building and not every room would be able to have a window to the exterior, but with plans for new elementary schools in Carmel and construction scheduled to start as soon as February 2020, the school board should consider maximizing windows in the infrastructure. I especially think it is important to try and place a window in every room of the new elementary schools because, unlike a high school or middle school schedule, the elementary students don’t have blocks and they stay in one specific classroom for longer amounts of time.

Last year, I learned about and covered the topic of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression typically associated with colder seasons due to the lack of natural sunlight these seasons provide. When learning about SAD, I learned about the widespread prevalence of symptoms of the disorder, especially among my fellow peers. According to an article on Journalist’s Resource, in a 1992 Swedish experiment, children who were in a classroom with no windows produced less of a hormone in charge of lowering stress and infection. Only having one window in all of my classes, I begun to wonder how I will be affected by the lack of sunlight and if I will experience stronger symptoms of SAD this upcoming winter.

My mother is a fourth grade teacher at Carmel Elementary School, and she has a window in her classroom like many other teachers in the building. Because of the way the window is set up, she is able to have two reading chairs sitting on a loft right by the sunlight. I know several other teachers in the building have the same set up. I think this is a great use of natural light the rooms are given.

While I hope CHS can find ways to provide more sunlight in the school, I do realize that the structure of the building is set and it may be difficult. While first seeing the light on the catwalk can be overwhelming, I do enjoy the area as well as the commons and the library because of the vast windows. For me, when I walk past those areas during my passing periods, it lifts my moods and helps provide a mental break in the day. So, I think the school board should also consider how to implement larger windows in the open areas of the elementary schools. The school board has a huge opportunity to create something beautiful and beneficial to students. I hope they are aware of this opportunity and use it to create elementary schools that reflect recent studies’ results of what objects and environments are the best for learning.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Kelly Truax at ktruax@hilite.org.

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