Portage Northern’s Courtyard

The giant, open space, and it’s purpose for the school


Taryn Ingersoll

Portage Northern’s courtyard

Six years ago, with the addition of the science wing here at Portage Northern, construction changed a parking lot into a small courtyard with a sidewalk leading from one hallway to another.  However, administration never allowed anyone into it, and students have wondered why it was there in the first place.  “Why would they spend a bunch of money on a courtyard if we’re not going to be able to use it?” says Eli Cartier (10).

It seemed that when the area became closed off due to construction, the sidewalk leading between the two hallways could be used for quicker transportation, but that is not the case.  “When it used to be open, it wasn’t a courtyard, it was an exit to the building, and it would exit right into the parking lot,” explains Michael Huber, Assistant Principal. “There was parking in there, so it was never a grassy area really, but it used to be a parking area.”

Seeing that it is now empty, and unable to remain a parking area, making it into a lunch area seems applicable to numerous students here at Portage Northern.  “They should let us eat lunch out there to give the freshman a place to go.  “I think it would be a great idea to open up more room in the cafeteria,” says Cartier.

Unfortunately, that is unable to be done.  “It’s interesting right now, how the fire code is.  That has to remain a fire exit for us.  So that is why the sidewalk is always free of snow.  There is an ice-melt system underneath, that we had to install because that whole courtyard area has to be able to be a fire exit, so that people can leave that area,” says Huber.

Aside from this, installing a lunch space or opening the courtyard for walking would cause quite a commotion among the science classes that border the expanse.  “All of the classrooms on the south side of it open their windows, and if we used it during lunchtime, and let students hang out in there, we have all of the classes to deal with.  If everyone is shouting and loud, and it’s pretty noisy in that area, all of the sound reflects off the walls, and we would be disrupting those classes,” says Huber.

Why would they spend a bunch of money on a courtyard if we’re not going to be able to use it?

— Eli Cartier (10)

As convenient as it may seem to make the area a part of the hallway system, it would adhere a copious amount of disorder for the classes along the science wing that border it, aside from the fact that it must remain a fire exit.  So, while we may wish that it will be open for use, for now, it will stay an empty courtyard.