The Crack Heard Around School
By Abby Gagermeier, Feature Editor
It was just another normal school day, students rushing about the halls, when something peculiar caught the attention of many passersby: a gaping, ominous crack that had burst through our rock-hard cinderblock walls. The jagged crevice had forged itself into the corridor across from the senior courtyard, and adjacent to the ramp between the gym lobby and the cafeteria.
While most of the damage is several feet up, quickly school staff took action to isolate the area. Soon thereafter, wooden supports were installed to keep our beloved school from caving in on itself, and now an entire structure has been erected around the site. As if our aging facilities didn’t already need attention, it now seems as if our school is literally crumbling to the ground. But what really happened? And more importantly, is the rest of our school coming down with it?
The county isn’t 100% certain of the cause, but it is believed that the crack is the result of an error made nearly fifty years ago! According to Mr. Krause (the assistant director of student activities), “The gym was a secondary edition,” he states, “and when the wall was built, it should’ve included parts called expansion joints.” Lo and behold, such joints were never included in construction, and over time the weight and stress of the roof eventually pushed out the wall. Thus creating the infamous crack.
Behind the temporary walls, FCPS has since contracted an engineering company to lead a demolition; which started on December 6th. “It’s an extensive project,” adds Mr. Krause, one which will take a number of weeks to complete, with no confirmed end date. The engineers will have to tear down the wall, place in the aforementioned joints, and then rebuild once again.
With such plans in mind, the crack will not cause any further damage to the structural integrity of our school. But for students like Maureen Keating (10) who still have several years left at Falls Church, it’s easier than ever to see the need for renovations. “It looks like a construction site,” she states bitterly. “Mount Vernon [High School] looks like a hotel compared to us.” Such a statement might be a bit extreme, but it goes to show the frustration building among students and staff alike.
Chase Carmody (9) also had a few choice words when asked about the situation: “They’re just covering things up that need to be fixed.” He later adds, “Justice [High School] has had enough renovations. Some of that money needs to come to us.”
It’s true that the county is on a limited budget, which makes it difficult to address the needs of every school. But the last time Falls Church was properly renovated was in 1988, for roof repairs and other technical updates. That being said, if the schedule provided by the School Board remains unchanged, Falls Church should be renovated in 2023. Until then, hang tight Jaguars and watch out for falling cinder blocks.