Writing Center Moved, Prized Study Room Lost


Charlie Coleman

Mr. Joyce’s typewriter in the Writing Center.

Room 436 in the Learning Commons (LC) has always been a fan-favorite among students at Latin because of its large capacity, whiteboard space, and projectors. This year, however, students were surprised to find 436 is no longer a study room and is now the Writing Center. Without this space, students reminisce about its former glory as they pass by.

The Writing Center was proposed in 2014 by former English teacher Frank Tempone. It began its inaugural year in 2015, and since the LC renovations, the Writing Center and Upper School English teacher James Joyce could be found at the site of the current Math Center, in Room 434.

“Students forget [the Writing Center] is a resource until the first essays come back and the college app deadlines approach,” Mr. Joyce said. “In the second, third, and fourth quarter, it gets momentum and starts rocking along, but man, the Math Center. I view their gangbuster numbers with jealousy and admiration. Students are knocking down the door to get in there from the very start.”

Although the Writing Center is off to a somewhat slow start, Mr. Joyce still noted its successes: “making resources for colleagues like the Global Studies team, [helping] students outline an essay, then in the fall a lot of college application essays.” Despite all of the academic resources in the Writing Center, students find themselves missing the old collaboration room.

Senior Kiran Garapati said, “I’d rather have the collaborative room there, and I know there are other spaces that can be used for the Writing Center, such as the new study room [324]. I feel like not many students use the third-floor study room just because it’s far away from where most of us do our homework.”

Additionally, some students have forgotten about its existence. Senior Brandon Shiffman said, “What’s Room 324?”

Kiran highlighted the usefulness of the projector and large whiteboards in the old study room. “When I was doing something collaborative like math homework or writing code for an [Independent Study Project], I could do multiple problems and still save my work,” he said. “Maybe if these resources could be put in another collaboration room, that would be very helpful.” It is noteworthy, though, that all of the other collaboration rooms have whiteboards as well.

With Room 436 now occupied, many students struggle to find a large and quiet collaborative space to complete group assignments, but it may be at the fault of the students themselves that they can’t find one. Although students like Kiran were properly using Room 436, many students failed to do so.

“I don’t know that students were always using the study rooms for academic purposes,” Upper School librarian Gretchen Metzler said. “That last room was always [in] high demand, and students use those spaces the way they want to, whether it’s because you always go in there to study or watch TV with your friends or whatever it is. I think people have their habits, and it’s hard to break how people use those spaces. Making it a space for academic purposes, like the Writing Center, is a positive thing for the Learning Commons.”

Mr. Joyce said that Room 436 “became a hangout where groups of up to 20 students would get rowdy and leave a mess. I and others frequently went in there to ask for quiet and, more annoyingly, to clean up student food and drink so that it would be presentable for further use. Cleaning up student garbage is a duty that belongs to neither myself nor a custodian.”

Although students are disappointed to bid farewell to their treasured collaboration room, it may have been an inevitable future students walked themselves into. Now, they face a new issue of booking the remaining four study rooms. The new online booking system limits the amount of times students can book the four rooms.

“It’s one less space, so it might make demand slightly higher,” Ms. Metzler said. “But we’re trying to be as equitable as possible with the new sign-up. Hopefully, that shows that we want everybody to have equal access.”