Large Windows are Unsafe and Need to be Changed

Architecture at Sage Creek prioritizes aesthetic over student and staff safety.

Ari Beckett, Staff Writer

In a school, besides education, safety must be a top priority. The future of the world is funneled into these public education hotspots, and the protection of the students is imperative.

Sage Creek High School is well known for its architectural appearance, as it is the first thing you see when you walk on campus.

“It looks like a college campus,” Bill Lord, one of the vice principals of Sage Creek, remarked, “it’s beautiful.” The steel beams, hundreds of stairs and expansive windows are arguably some of the most notable features on campus.

There are many advantages to these features. Specifically, the windows help with “energy savings … because you can use the natural light, which is easier on your eyes,” or even in “heating the building,” Thomas Gamelin, an architecture teacher at Sage Creek, noted.

While the environmental advantages are clear, there may be added risk in the inclusion of large windows at school. In the case of a lockdown, would the windows pose more risk than reward? If an intruder saw into a class through the large windows and was armed, this would be a very dangerous situation.

The simple solution in place now is the use of blinds, but they aren’t sufficient. According to Thomas Bloomquist, one of the history teachers, he was “struggling the other day with [his] blinds.” He was referring to the lockdown drill held the day before, where teachers were asked to close windows, blinds, and locked doors to practice the emergency lockdown procedure. Keeping blinds down all the time would be an easy fix, however, since if they are down at all times, no one would be able to see in the classrooms. This being said, keeping blinds down all the time would eliminate the environmental benefits – including natural lighting – that students and staff reap from the windows.

There are a plethora of possible solutions, including automatic blinds that shut at the push of a button; automatic blackout windows, which would blackout at the push of a button; bulletproof glass; and many other materials with regards to windows. While these ideas are interesting to think about, “those things are going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to install,” Gamelin added, “the main constraint is going to be money.” Bloomquist also jogged the question, “if they go for automatic blinds; do they have less money for the science department; do they have less money for Chromebooks?” A fair and important point, especially at a STEM school, like Sage. Nevertheless, in the case of a life threatening emergency where the covered windows would be needed, no amount of money ‘saved’ would be worth the life that might not be saved in an attack.

A far superior solution may be already in place. For instance, the cafeteria, library, and gym include frosted windows and/or striped windows― windows that look foggy or have stripes running down them vertically― which deter any person from seeing through it from a distance. Additionally, Lord informed me that “the gym windows are already tinted,” and will be tinted darker in the future— which is not for safety reasons, but for keeping the gym temperature cool.

Of the three glass options, frosted glass seems most reasonable in that some classes have smaller frosted windows, while the stripes and tinted ones are exclusively on the lower parts of the buildings— the library, cafeteria and gym. Additionally, the frosted glass still allows natural light to shine through windows, one of the main benefits of the large, ecological design.

In regards to costs, frosted glass is relatively inexpensive. Frosted glass has three forms of application. The first being a vinyl film that is placed over the window like tape and cut to shape. The film cost ranges from $25 to $125 for a 3×5 foot film. The second option, being a spray on type, goes for a price of $4 to $10 for a 12 oz can, which would cover a 35 square foot area of glass. The spray would be more labor intensive and would have to dry. The last option is a chemical cream which is not typically used for entire windows but small etchings and wouldn’t be reasonable for a project this big.

Overall, making sure the campus looks beautiful must not be held above the safety of staff and students, money must not be held above life, and the windows at Sage Creek must be changed.