Made in the Shade: New canopies on campus shield out the sun

Kirsten Kraus | Staff Writer

Kate Vana and her friends apply their SPF 40 sunblock and slide their Aviators over their nose as they make their way outside to lunch under the searing Texas sun.

Students have awaited the completion of the canopies since they saw them being constructed on the first day of school, but some were heartbroken when they found out that the canopies only provided a limited amount of seating area.

 “I waited and waited for the shades to be put up, and I was super excited, but then since it’s so popular, I couldn’t get a seat,” sophomore Zane Danburg said.

Johnson’s rapidly growing population has made an open spot in the cafeteria a rare sighting. The previous seating outside had supplied more sitting space, making the cafeteria less crowded, but sun, wind, and rain can take a toll on students. Luckily for those that sit outside, a canopy was constructed this year for students to beat the heat.

“It’s going to help a lot. It gives students more space with cover like on rainy days when everyone comes inside. But once you have the cover, we’re not going to be as compacted inside,” assistant principal Cynthia Reinhart said.

Even though most students would prefer to sit in the cafeteria for their lunch period, but not everyone can fit inside. This has required students to move outside to eat even if they don’t want to. There simply wasn’t enough room inside the cafeteria.

“Well, I really think that it’s hot out there, and we are growing and growing in numbers at Johnson.  When the school opened and we had 1500 kids, everyone fit in the cafeteria just fine. It wasn’t very crowded in the cafeteria, but now it’s crowded, so we have those outside tables. However, it’s hot out there, so we made a big covered area outside where kids could go eat in the shade,”  assistant principal Julie Shore said.

 The construction of the canopies limited even outside lunch space for the first week of the school year, which made finding a seat extremely difficult for a lot of students.

“It doesn’t give us enough room to just spread out; everyone is just crammed. There are so many people inside and so many people on the chairs outside too. It’s such a big area to encompass that it’s really bad,” senior Alyssa Ramos said.

Although the new canopies will provide shade for those fortunate to reserve a seat outside during lunches, many students don’t believe that they will be helpful.

“I don’t really think it will help. I think more people are going to go over there, and it’s gonna be crowded and unpleasant,” sophomore Ashley Golias said. “It’s not gonna be useful.”

The construction has taken huge amounts of planning and fundraising to accomplish. Various clubs, organizations, and the PTA have assisted in raising the money necessary to build the new canopies.

“Well, the clubs and organizations donated money. PTA was also a huge part of that and they were really wonderful with helping to afford that for the school,” Shore said. “Mr. Melbrech came up with the idea to have it. He talked it over with the PTA, and they said ‘we love that, we’ll help you, and we’ll give this much money,’ and then he had to come up with the rest. Some clubs and organizations gave money, and then he was able to budget the things he had to help for it also.”

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