Students walking on the second floor of the S-Wing hallway during passing period. This shows an example of Franklin’s overcrowded hallways. Photo by Ava Anderson 

If you go to Franklin High School, you likely know the daily experience of trying to walk through overcrowded hallways during passing periods. Shuffling feet. Shoving your way through the bottlenecks that form at any doorway. Tardies. Annoyance. Though the population at Franklin has decreased since our 2021-22 school year, it was, according to Principal Chris Frazier, only supposed to be 1,700 students, given the building’s capacity. Now, with 2,002 students, Franklin is considered to be overpopulated. This not only causes overcrowding inside the school, but also out. This presents issues of overcrowded streets during drop-off and pickup, no places to park, not enough classrooms or bathrooms, and evacuation safety hazards.

Overcrowded hallways are often one of the first problems people think of regarding overpopulation at Franklin. During passing period, or before and after school, there is little space to walk through many of Franklin’s hallways. According to the administration, this has yet to cause any notable accidents, but it still presents many other problems. One problem is making students late to class. “I’ve been late to many classes because I couldn’t get through the hall,” student Annie Latterall says. “Teachers understand if it happens once or twice, but when it happens every period they start having a problem.” Often teachers do understand, as many, such as art and photography teacher Carrie Berning, have experienced the crowded hallways firsthand. However, with students consistently late, many teachers become frustrated with losing valuable class time. The length of our passing period is also not the only challenge of overcrowding. According to Principal Frazier, ideally “you should be able to go from the gym to the auditorium within seven minutes,” which is considered the longest distance a student would need to go. Still, the administration recognizes that when the building is this populated, that’s not usually possible. 

Long lines and overcrowded spaces are also not the only reason the students lose class time. With too few bathrooms compared to students, lines are often long. This further makes students late to class, as well as lowers the cleanliness of our bathrooms. Due to this, many students have begun to use the gender-neutral bathrooms, further taking away the few ones available to those who need them. During lunch, long lines in the cafeteria are also raising problems, a top concern for administration. Many students wait in the lunch line for at least ten minutes, taking away their well-needed break and time to eat. Our hallways also present difficulties for many students who need aids, as student Zsōfi Minteir-Vegh explains. Many are forced to leave 5-10 minutes early from class to avoid the crowded hallways and minimize injuries. This is unfair to them and shows how unsafe crowded hallways can be.

Furthermore, overpopulation at Franklin raises the issue of fire and general evacuation safety. Though some areas are able to clear quickly, such as the library and cafeteria that Campus Safety Associate Osa Osene is in charge of, many other parts of the school are not able to. One of these places is the exit for the S-wing by Franklin’s theater. As Berning explains, many classes are stuck in place during fire drills for at least five minutes, just waiting for everyone to clear. This is extremely dangerous as during a real fire people will be panicked; making the dilemma worse. Berning also explains that people often get stuck by windows. “Let’s pretend like it actually was a fire,” she says. “We’re gonna have exploding glass. We’re all just like standing there and not able to move anywhere because we’re stuck.” This is just another dangerous outcome of overpopulation at Franklin that needs to be solved. In terms of evacuation and fire safety, however, this solution needs to be prioritized.

In addition to less hallway space, Franklin’s building has fewer classrooms than its population seems to need. Teachers have always had to share classrooms since the building was renovated, but now classes are being held at Atkinson, and just this summer a new classroom was built. Berning is one of the teachers in the new classroom and explains how building the new classroom was the solution to stop having photography classes at Atkinson. “They already knew that they were going to have to build the new classroom,” she says. “It was just a matter of [if they] were going to take one of these other classrooms [that were small and had been converted from a community learning space], or [if they] wanted to have a new classroom, without actually knowing what it looked like.” The new classroom ultimately is a good solution to move photography out from Atkinson, as any class located there often has higher tardies and absences, but the new classroom is shaped like an L. According to Berning, this has caused the need for a higher trust that students are listening and doing their work, as well as thinking of other solutions to work with the shape, such as having students watch slideshows from their Chromebooks and the possibility of having two projectors. Nonetheless, the new classroom helps work towards a more connected school, and as Principal Frazier reports, the ultimate goal is to move away from teaching at Atkinson while accommodating our large population. 

Additionally, driving and parking at Franklin is yet another issue. Though Franklin would still face similar problems if there were fewer students, these issues are amplified by overpopulation, and students, teachers, and residents near Franklin are all forced to deal with overcrowded streets before and after school. This also means minimal places to park for both students and staff. Due to the number of people who take cars to school, there is often a large amount of traffic near Franklin before the start and after the end of the school day. This causes more students to be late, frustration for those trying to be on time or ready to leave after a long day, and has even caused accidents. “There was a fender bender yesterday,” reports Osene, referring to Sep. 13, 2021. And this wasn’t an uncommon incident. Student Zsōfi Minteir-Vegh also reports that their car has been hit while they were parked at school during the day, saying “During school, someone hit my car and left a note. It was all figured out and everything but still.” Incidents such as this have happened due to the traffic surrounding Franklin, and the low amount of parking spaces available. Only teachers are allowed to use Franklin’s small parking lots, forcing students, and teachers who aren’t able to find a parking place, to park on the residential streets. This is frustrating to surrounding residents, increases the traffic, and makes streets so narrow that accidents occur.

Overpopulation has caused many issues for those at Franklin and surrounding it. It has caused our hallways to be overcrowded and overwhelming, students to be late, traffic and dangerous car situations, lowered fire safety, and a population that has ultimately outgrown its building. There is not a simple solution to this problem, with every possibility having large complications and drawbacks. The most common suggestion has been reopening Marshall and redrawing boundary lines, or smaller solutions, such as building more parking lots, continuing to build new classrooms, and building new bathrooms. Nonetheless, overpopulation at Franklin is a highly frustrating issue and deserves focus and conversations to find viable solutions to these issues. As a community, we must work together towards utilizing the school we have, doing what we can on our level, and working towards preventing frustration and dangerous situations inside and outside of our school.

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