BY Malaika zaidi
Based on numerous requests on feedback sheets sent out by Principal’s Leadership Team in the past year, Maine West opened a senior lounge this fall, eliminating the faculty cafeteria to make way for more seating and tables.
The old faculty cafeteria was redesigned and repurposed in order to give the class of 2018 and future classes—what they wanted: a space for seniors to eat lunch, study, do homework or simply unwind with their friends.
Principal Dr. Audrey Haugan introduced it as “a space where seniors can be separate from everybody else,” and since the teachers sacrificed their space, “they feel the teachers care.”
Because it is more limited than the main caf and more social than a study hall, it encourages new and diverse friendships.
“You can meet more people you don’t know and get more involved with your grade,” senior Shawn Barnvos said.
Although the lounge is only a month old, the reviews from seniors have been overwhelmingly positive. “I like it because I feel like the seniors are brought together more. [There is] a sense of community; everyone talks to each other. That’s my favorite part of it,” said senior Faraz Bashir. “I’d end up next to somebody because it is very compact and everybody’s together. Something would come up and you would start a conversation with that person.”
Not only does it encourage new friendships, but it can be a great stress reliever for those who need to wind down after their trying classes.
“I really like it. It’s a cool thing they added because senior year is really stressful and we’re all leaving each other next year, so it’s a place for all of us to get together,” senior Katelyn Aragon said.
The senior lounge is serving as a way for seniors to communicate with one another. Since everyone is together in a small room, they’re getting to know each other. “It gets us talking to each other. There are different groups of people who would be spread across the cafeteria that are now in one room,” senior Jessica Riedl said.
The seniors are hoping to incorporate more activities in the lounge, to make it a more enjoyable and unified environment for everyone.
“We’re going to try to do something fun on Fridays, maybe like a potluck,” senior Emma Tamillo said.
According to Haugan, the school has been very accommodating to the seniors’ needs by adding speakers, for example, with a white board and a television possibly coming soon.