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A deeper look at the courtyards

The+Kay+Baer+courtyard%2C+pictured+above%2C+is+a+large+part+of+BHS+but+is+seldom+used.+Photo+by+Andrew+Messerschmidt.+
The Kay Baer courtyard, pictured above, is a large part of BHS but is seldom used. Photo by Andrew Messerschmidt.

The Kay Baer courtyard, pictured above, is a large part of BHS but is seldom used. Photo by Andrew Messerschmidt.

The Kay Baer courtyard, pictured above, is a large part of BHS but is seldom used. Photo by Andrew Messerschmidt.

Andrew Messerschmidt, Staff Writer

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Located at the center of BHS, students and staff alike pay little attention to the courtyards because they are seldom used. Though the courtyards seem to have no function (besides the physics playground), Principal McWilliams explains why the courtyards were built.

“It’s actually a very simple answer,” McWilliams said. “Before 1998, Barrington High School did not have air conditioning, so in order for you to have classes, you needed to have outside windows so you could get ventilation. The whole month[s] of August and September you need to be able to open windows up to keep the climate [cool]. That’s why they’re there. This building is 70 years old, so that’s where the courtyards fit in.”

Now that the high school has a modern ventilation system, the courtyards have become less useful and less important over the years, since have been replaced by air conditioning units.

“When [architects] look at Blueprint 220, they do see [the courtyards] in some respects as wasted space, as an opportunity to build in more,” said Principal McWilliams.

McWilliams continues to say, “One of the reasons we don’t allow courtyard use is because of just a distraction factor. We’re looking at some opportunities maybe for the lower Commons area, [by] the faculty cafeteria there’s another grey locker bank [to be renovated]. We haven’t done much with it yet, but we thought maybe we [could] take that locker bank out and put some new furniture in there [or] garage doors.”

Though they aren’t used very often by students and staff, one of the courtyards contains a grill and a couple picnic benches that are utilized for cookouts.

McWilliams said that last year he visited the Apple Store in Palo Alto, California, and was inspired by the architectural innovation he saw, especially the glass door that opens like a garage door and allows people to easily flow in and out of the store.

“The thought was, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we could do something like that,’ where you could have an area to sit and eat outside or study outside within that courtyard area. The HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) guys might yell at me and not let me do it, but that’s what we’re thinking about maybe for next year.”

Occasionally, groups like the German Club use the courtyard space with a grill to host a cookout event.

Perhaps in the future through Blueprint 220, the courtyards will be renovated or no longer remain. But for now, the courtyards will remain a part of BHS.

 

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A deeper look at the courtyards