Behind the Scenes: Unique Spots on Old Sehome’s Campus

Remembering the best parts of the old building before moving into the new

As Sehome transitions into the new school, many students have mixed feelings of both excitement and nostalgia. While the building itself will crumble at the semester’s end, the adventures of these rooms will live on. From parade floats to room dividers, to fifty-year old paintings and secret rooms, the history of Sehome is full of surprises and crazy stories.

One such room at Sehome is IA-5. This room is home to art teacher Randelle Crawford, who teaches a multitude of different art classes, including Art 1 and 2, Watercolor, Painting, and Art Studio. The classroom that current students have only known as the art room has a peculiar history of unusual classes. At one point, the room was home to a photography class. In the late 60’s, students used the space to put together elaborate parade floats, and at another point, the classroom was a full-size auto-body shop, where students could work on cars. “There’s still remnants of that, like the air compressor,” Crawford said.

And while students at Sehome joke about the “California Architects” who designed the building, Crawford actually enjoys the distance between her classroom and the main building. “I kinda like being away from everything and I think kids do, too,” Crawford said, “I think when kids come out here, they feel like they’re taking a step away from the madness. I like providing that.”

Although there are a lot of physical problems with the old art building, like the leaking ceilings, these classrooms are where teachers and students have created lifelong friendships. “I feel like this is where I forged my identity as a teacher,” Crawford said. “There are a lot of memories here.”
Similar to the art room in IA-5, the science classrooms at Sehome have become a second home to many students and faculty. Physics teacher Mark Toney is going to miss his beloved old classroom.

Toney’s favorite part of his room is his storage space. It harbors all of the eccentric tools required to conduct his mind-boggling demos. “I like walking around with all my stuff because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy,” Toney said. Unlike the Chemistry department, Toney has his storage room all to himself. When the time comes to move to the new school, Toney is going to have to deal with the difficult task of sharing.

In his seventeen years of teaching, Toney’s also grown attached to many other aspects of his classroom. “I’ll miss the decades-old paintings on the walls, which went up around the time the school was built,” Toney said. “The cracks in the ceilings, all the dents in the floor from dropping things, those are going to be hard to replace.” On one wall, the painting of Einstein, the monkey next to it, and the giant symbols that display fundamental equations are iconic parts of his classroom and will be difficult to replicate in the new school. The dents, however, won’t be too hard for Toney.
Even though the paintings in Toney’s classroom have aged gracefully, other aspects of Sehome haven’t been so lucky. Throughout the 52-year history of Sehome’s building, a lot of things have fallen in and out of trend. And at the time of the building’s original opening, the biggest trend was community classrooms. From this, the infamous classroom dividers were born.

The original purpose of these dividers was to give teachers the ability to merge two classrooms into one large room. All they needed to do was roll back the mobile wall to the sides of the classroom and they were able to co-teach subjects together. And after years of use, or non-use, these dividers have lost some of their touch. Their number one problem is the lack of a sound barrier they provide between the classrooms.
One duo of teachers that have been forced to learn how to deal with the ups and downs of these dividers are social studies teachers Kevin Ryan and Ed Wissing, in neighboring rooms 127 and 128, respectively.

Wissing won’t be missing the dividers. “I am happy to leave it behind in the rubble of the old building,” he said. While he acknowledged that the divider may have been useful at one point, their benefits are long in the past. “We haven’t done enough to make these walls worth the added hassle of all the noise,” Wissing said.

A few years ago, Wissing and previous social studies teacher Rob Zabel had attempted to open the dividers for schoolwide standardized testing. They spent a while attempting to pull the dividers open before realizing they were pushing them against the hinge. “I’m lucky I didn’t dislocate my shoulder in the process,” Wissing said. When the time came to close the dividers at the end of the testing, Wissing and Zabel could not return them back to their fully closed position. District maintenance had to be called to assist in closing the eight inch gap between the two classrooms. “They told us that if we ever opened them again, we’d have to get it closed by ourselves,” Wissing said. Even today, the gap is still about an inch wide. Ryan and Wissing have been told not to open the dividers again in the case that history repeats itself.

On the up side, the door in the dividers provides easy access between the two classrooms. “I go back and forth all the time,” Ryan said, who also conceded his side of the noise, saying, “I drive Wissing mad with all the movies going on.”

Even though the sound coming from the classrooms can become annoying at times, the dividers have brought their fair share of memories. For example, in the past, students have leaned their chair against the divider door and fallen into the adjacent classroom. Ryan recounts such an occurrence once. “[The student] fell through into the other room. There was a class going on. Right through the door,” Ryan said. And since the door latch doesn’t hold, a simple push is enough to open it. “We’ll just occasionally have a surprise guest,” Wissing said.

One other famous landmark of Sehome’s prehistoric campus is the famed Little Theatre. Kandace McGowan, drama and journalism teacher at Sehome, runs the theatre along with the classroom next to it, which doubles as backstage for her performers.

However, the Little Theatre hasn’t always been only a theatre. Before a group of teachers converted it, the space used to be a lecture hall. The booth used to be where they put the projector, and the copier room was where they kept the film. It’s for this reason that the Little Theatre is so unique.
The long history of the Little Theatre has guaranteed that it’s full of surprises that people in the theatre will run into every once in a while. “We found a note from students from 1974,” McGowan said. The note was found behind a peg board that McGowan and her students had taken down to pack away. Among them was the message, “This panel was hung the same day I wore my new pants with the pocket liners”. These messages from past generations of Sehome students are special to the old Sehome building. “There’s not going to be things like that in the new school. But we’ll make more,” McGowan said.

Not all the mysteries of the Little Theatre have been discovered and some of them have been forgotten. Among these mysteries is the presence of a secret passageway that takes you underneath the stage. Under the stage is a small room, big enough to stand in. This secret died out around five years ago, after classes stopped passing down the information to the younger ones. “I didn’t like the idea of having people crawling around underneath the stage,” McGowan said. However, the door is still there, should anyone try and look for it.

In the end, even though Sehome is full of cracks in the ceiling and weird stains on the floor, this building has been the umbrella under which Sehome’s history has grown. And for all its flaws, the old building will always remain a cherished relic of Sehome’s past.