HHS closing causes Farmington High School to undergo numerous changes

Anna Pierce, Staff Writer

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The closing of Harrison High School will result in an increase of about 300 students to Farmington High School; therefore, changes will occur in the lunchroom, hallways, and classroom that will affect both students and staff.

To make the transition for Harrison students to Farmington easier, a transition team has met every two weeks since January 2017.  The transition team consists of parents, administrators, teachers and students from all three high schools.

The team observes transitions in middle and elementary schools in the district to learn how to make the process easier, leave a more positive impact and lessen the negativity related to the switch while attempting to make HHS students feel welcome.

“I know my friends from Harrison always talk about how they’re dreading the switch, and I think a lot of FHS students don’t want them to come either,” stated Johnnie Socha, 10, who went to HHS her freshman year.

To ease any possible tensions or hostilities, one of the first steps taken by the transition team was to plan a Transition Day that will take place on May 31 so that the Harrison staff and students coming next year will get the chance to experience a day at FHS.  

“It will be a day we can come together and form a new culture,” Shelton stated.  

Additionally, FHS is currently under capacity with about 1,200 students, and it will remain at capacity even with the increase of staff and students. Yet, in addition to forming a new culture, creating and enforcing new ways to maintain safety is still an important matter. 

In regards to the potential overcrowding of hallways during passing time, Shelton stated that the “building had one-way hallways, and I’m not necessarily saying this is what we are going to have to do, but things like that in order to accommodate more students.”

Moreover, he stated that if passing time is not long enough for students to get to their classes on time, administration could look into making it longer if needed.  Likewise, in regards to the increased number of students in the parking lot, assigned parking spots are not something FHS has to bring back. If the lot does become an issue, there could be a rule potentially set in place where sophomores have to park near the tennis courts.

Furthermore, class size and the lunchroom will not be as affected because classes that are under the average number of students will just be filled. Also, instead of adding an additional lunch hour, tables will be added to the existing three lunches with possible access to other spaces, in addition to the library, which is already accessible.

In addition to students being affected, teachers will also be affected in both positive and negative ways.  For instance, there will be less travel between schools for teachers, but they may have to travel between classrooms within FHS.

However, because there will be only two main high schools in the district, “it will be easier for curriculum developing, and a more consistent focus on what everyone is doing,” Deanna Johnson, English teacher, stated.

In contrast, some teachers and staff may lose their jobs after undergoing a rigorous evaluation system, and new faces, whether they be counselors, admin, or teachers, will appear at FHS.  

“We won’t employ as many teachers, but we want to help them as much as possible,” superintendent George Heitsch stated.

Lastly, some positive changes to FHS include the IB program that Shelton described as a benefit to FHS students because it will be fully integrated into the school community, as well as more JV and freshman sports teams.  In addition, for a few years, there will be dual leadership in clubs and organizations such as a Student Council president from Harrison and Farmington.

“We are trying to be sensitive to what students want, but we don’t want to create a division among the students,” Shelton stated.  

For example, there might be a Hawk and Falcon mascot at football games and pep-rallies for the next few years.  Therefore, the biggest thing to emphasize, according to Shelton, is that everyone will be welcome.

Lastly, students and members of the community will still be able to enjoy Harrison as it will be turned into a recreational center similar to the Livonia Rec Center with plans for a pool, theatre and potential dome over the turf field.  

The important thing to remember, as stated by Heitsch, is that we are all one district, and we need to be able to recognize this.