Weird Design Elementary

The Expansions... or lack thereof

Expansions? There were expansions?

I really do have to wonder what on earth the city planners and contractors were thinking when they were drawing up the tract housing lots AND designing West Heritage. They didn’t exactly give themselves much room to work with– much of the western tracts were already blocked in when West Heritage opened, so they were stuck with this circular blob of land to make do with.

Let’s ignore for a moment that the above is a Google map from 10 minutes ago. For one thing, when West Heritage opened, it had those seven concrete buildings (the bigger ones not highlighted with a color boundary, pay no mind to the outlier in the basketball courts because it didn’t show up until loooong after I left. The school was painted this creepy shade of pink and had blue metal roof effects. Let’s call this section the “Original Construct.”

The Original Construct itself was strangely laid out. You’d think that the core offices (Principal/Admin, staff lounge, etc.) would be to either the immediate left or right… NOPE! Said offices were in the middle-left building, instead. However, I don’t recall that small building between the elongated lower buildings being there, which leads me to believe it was added after my departure, and it would be plausible that the Admin/front offices would have been moved there as a choke point. Otherwise, any old bloke could wander in and completely bypass any notion of security. (And in the beginning, the closest we had to security was a fleet of middle-aged women serving as hall moderators– excuse me, PROCTORS.)

Immediately to your left upon entering the front gate was the Kindergarten classroom. Yes. ROOM. Long room is looooooong. As far as I know, there was only one Kindergarten classroom, internally partitioned to allow for two classes (and oddly enough, what partitioned it was the freaking bathroom, with doors on either side allowing crossover to the other sub-room). The Kindergarten class was itself considered isolated from the rest of the school– there was practically no interaction between it and the general population, though I do recall very late into my stay, the teachers began experimenting with letting them share with one of the lower-population lunch periods at the end of the year as preparation for entry into the general population.

…wow, that ALMOST sounds like prison, doesn’t it? Ahem…

Cafeteria/Computer Lab

Bad sound flow is BAD.

The Cafeteria (which doubled as the auditorium) and the Computer Lab occupied the right building to the immediate right. Again, this was another design decision that made little sense. The Cafeteria’s doors opened up to the classrooms immediately above. Now, I’m no sound engineer or anything, but that’s just bad, BAD design, and moreso when you consider that the whiniest, easily-butthurt-over-noise teachers were often placed in those classrooms. Its most infamous resident was Mrs. Reinheimer, the 3rd grade teacher (I think at one point she might have been 2nd or 4th grade, these teachers tended to change grade levels quite a bit), and she was EXTREMELY touchy about the noise level outside her classroom. So much that while talking while in transit to the computer lab was already frowned upon, it was ESPECIALLY considered verboten (along with things like loud stomping) when in proximity to her classroom, else she would come out and like an irritable dragon, put on this angry fit to scare us all into shutting up because we were disturbing her class. (Really, it was all about her. She wore sunglasses even while indoors. I’m pretty sure the woman suffered from horrible migraines. If that was the case, you’d think she’d have asked for a transfer to the north side, where you’d have the least sound interference…)

The Cafeteria, aside from having been designed by a bonehead as far as door placement, was also where West Heritage’s most egregious offenses against childhood took place– I speak of course about Silent Lunch and the monthly assemblies, to name a couple of the worst offenders. I’ll revisit those in greater detail in the near future.

The smaller white building (with the vents and fans up top) was where the computer lab was located, though only the general population had access to it during my time there. For the extremely hardcore among us, prepare to either crap your pants or squee– West Heritage LOVED Amiga. We had a fleet of color Amiga units with generously-sized monitors (at that time). I don’t recall the exact names, but I know they were packing Math Blasters, D-Paint (which STRONGLY resembled Photoshop), something about the solar system/history of space flight, and this extremely bizarre little RPG, “Mixed Up Mother Goose.” I’ll revisit the shenanigans of the Computer Lab and West Heritage’s love affair with Amiga in a future post.

Now, let’s return to the big map I put up at the beginning. Those portable units in red? They didn’t exist when the school opened. Needless to say, when West Heritage opened in 1988, it got such a massive enrollment that the district was all “oh CRAP” and the first of the “perma-bungaloes” appeared the next year just to cope with the population growth. One would think that West Heritage would have planned to build in actual concrete classrooms, but as we would later learn, Etiwanda School District’s solution to everything is to ADD MORE PERMA-BUNGALOES. The red ones were added in two phases– the ones toward the front the year after the school opened, and the ones in the back around 2nd grade. The ones in blue were added in 4th grade (during the experiment in adding a 6th grade class and allowed my brother to stay at West Heritage before getting shuttled off to EIS for 7th grade).

Sometime after my departure, it appears all of the perma-bungaloes were replaced because they’re shaped differently and, in fact, rotated to empty out away from the quad (the outdoor “stage” where assemblies were sometimes held if weather permit, particularly the Halloween event). In that case, I would have to give the planners a point for exercising GOOD judgement in sound flow.

That patch of concrete in the green outline? TOTALLY wasn’t there before. Here’s the thing about the big grassy lot– it was very poorly maintained. It’s, like… you’d have parts being overwatered and creating swampy patches (that we were expected to run through during P.E., ewww!), where the center was dry and patchy and prone to huge fly mobs… and likely permanently screwed up during 5th grade when my class did soap sculptures as part of a literature project. (Whee, future post fodder!) We left behind a bunch of soap scraps that probably killed a huge patch of grass. The yellow triangles? That’s where one would (theoretically) play softball. I say “theoretically” because they were often too swampy to be usable. The sprinkler systems never quite worked properly in those parts. Most of the time, they served as checkpoints during the parts of P.E. in which we were made to run the perimeter of the grass lot. Also, the proctors didn’t exactly like it when people hung around that far out, it probably made it too hard for them to spy on what you were doing (to make sure you weren’t trading contraband).

Really, dudes. I have never seen this much concrete in an elementary school. Panning over to East Heritage in Google Maps, I can see it didn’t get much better– it was only HALF concrete as opposed to 2/3, and its grassy lot was even crappier. Now, I know that these are elementary schools and not meant to be all that big (since several of them funnel their 5th grade populations into the intermediate school and were thus collectively referred to as “feeder” schools) but… I don’t know, there was just something a little weird about all that concrete. No wonder the hall moderators were hung up on kids running!

To those who have endured this entire post, thank you. And, chances are, you now know a whole lot more than what that excuse of an official website for West Heritage will ever tell you. It only gets much weirder (and more fun) from here, dudes.

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