McNick melts in humid heat

With classes starting at the end of August and ending at the end of May, McNicholas High School must endure a variety of weather and temperatures, which includes hot, sunny, and humid days of summer. With the school having to endure these conditions, one would expect that it would be properly air conditioned. However, McNick has only a select few rooms with proper air conditioning.

This fact seems near torturous in the wake of the past weeks, when temperatures soared up to low 90°F paired with up to 100% humidity. Students sweat through classes in rooms that can become hotter than outside temperatures, thus affecting their performance levels, a fact that Principal Patty Beckert recognizes, saying that she thinks the heat can make students tired and make it harder to focus. “I have to admit there is an impact,” Beckert said, “but I don’t think it’s so significant,” she added.

Regardless of whether or not the impact of the heat is significant, it should be avoided entirely, if possible. The best option would have been to have air conditioning installed as each part of the school was built, but I recognize that this was likely implausible. Air conditioning is a fairly recent development for schools, especially on a scale as large as McNick. Plus, each part of the school was built at different times, so adding air conditioning could not be kept in a reasonable budget. In today’s climate though, the idea should be revisited.

However, according to Beckert, financial reasons have led to the lack of school-wide air conditioning. Currently, air conditioning is only in rooms with computers or other technology that shouldn’t overheat, in offices, and in larger gathering spaces.

Air conditioning has been discussed for installation in the main gym. According to Mr. Shawn Young, Manager of Alumni Relations and Special Events, the estimate for this ranges from $110,000 to $200,000 depending on infrastructure, another major problem in regards to school-wide installation. In order to keep installation cheaper, the roof must be able to hold the weight of the air conditioning units, and the school must have the electricity necessary to power them.

With the estimate only for the main gym, installing air conditioning to all of McNick would be an expensive undertaking, and McNick wants to avoid raising tuition prices. According to Beckert, air conditioning would have to come from pure donation. This makes the task of air conditioning installation more daunting and difficult than it already was, but Beckert said a start to fundraising is feasible in the near future.

In the meantime, Beckert suggests that students drink plenty of water, or try other ways to keep cool, such as cooling towels. Beckert also encourages teachers to turn on their fans and open their windows first thing in the morning.  She also recommended that teachers take their classes outside, if possible, as the movement and change in scenery might be conducive to learning and relieve student drowsiness.

“[The heat] is something we can overcome and deal with,” she said.

In order for air conditioning to be installed at McNick, the roof must be able to support the added weight of air conditioning units as well as provide sufficient electricity to the units. If the roof is unable to support these requirements, it must be adjusted, adding the price to bolster the roof to the price of the air conditioning installation itself. This is a major undertaking for a capital campaign rooted solely in donations, but it is still feasible, at least in part. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

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