By Azim M. Keshwani
Great Neck South High School is considered to be one of the best schools on Long Island. Founded in 1958, it has a long tradition of always putting its students first. But that has recently changed, as now more than ever, students feel that their voice is not being heard. These students are concerned about one issue in particular: air conditioning.
That’s right. One of the best schools in the country lacks school-wide air conditioning. And this is a bigger problem than you might think. Many of the school’s classrooms, especially during the spring, can reach dangerously high temperatures, which create an unsafe environment, not only for students, but also for teachers.
“I do see the area of complaint, as someone who has witnessed a student faint firsthand last year in one of my ‘warmer’ classes without AC,” said Sunny Shi, a senior who has attended the school since his freshman year. “The administration doesn’t care and we don’t really have a say in anything.”
Another student, freshman Rachel Schneider, was forced to visit the nurse after the warm temperatures made her feel sick. “It is definitely something that is important to me since it can be distracting when it is too hot and very uncomfortable when taking a major exam,” said Schneider.
The heat can also negatively affect test scores and class performance. “It is definitely problematic,” explained chemistry teacher Leonie Rubin. “It impedes concentration and learning.”
This is especially true for AP examinations. These exams are taken in the gym, where the only cooling supplied comes from two giant standing fans in the front, which create noise while unevenly cooling the room.
The only viable solution to this issue is air conditioning. However, students have been fighting for this for many years, but have been shut down many times. The argument is that air conditioning is too costly to implement.
But no cost is too high for a safe and stable learning environment. This should be one of the administration’s top priorities, though it seems that they have not even given it a thought. Multiple meetings with the administration have had no success.
“It is disappointing to see our needs and desires brushed off as insignificant when we, the students, are one of the most important groups of people influenced by the budget decision,” explained Student Body President Tina Pavlovich.
The issue of air conditioning is not one that will be solved over night, but it is a situation that we need to address. The administration needs to talk seriously about this problem because it is a very important one. The voice of the Great Neck South High student body needs to be heard. We can do this.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Azim M. Keshwani, vice president of the Great Neck South student body, was a speaker at the April 4 board of education meeting.