The Landscape of the Penitentiary

As I strolled along the concrete of the senior courtyard, my eyes were first drawn to the gazebo. It was the biggest thing that resided in the courtyard. The golden sun beamed upon the turret-shapes structure. When I plopped myself down on the wooden bench of the gazebo, a couple of things stood out to me.

On the ceiling, a plethora of plaques stared down on me. On the plaques listed the names of deceased students and teachers. There’s a sense of perpetuation, culmination, and duration when I look at the plaques. Also on the ceiling of the gazebo is a light. Though its status is unclear, it has definitely aged. The dilapidated look of it, coupled with the dust covering it like food at an all-you-can-eat buffet, made the gazebo seem elderly.

With the breezy, sharp, crisp, and cool weather, the courtyard had a serene feel to it. It reminded me of my excursion to Maui – one of the islands of Hawaii. The weather was breezy, yet refreshing. The sky was filled with clouds, yet it was great to look at. It was relaxing to sit down and take in everything I saw.

However, not everything was nice to observe in the senior courtyard. The grass was shriveled up and broken down, probably a result of the students stepping all over it. In one of the plant holders, there was an orange juice cup laid right smack in the middle of the potting soil. I felt it represented how much students don’t care for the environment today.

By the time I was just starting to feel disgusted by the courtyard, my educator instructed all of us to come inside.

There was a desolate and bleak feel to the inside of the penitentiary – mostly because classes were going on at that moment. The floors, though shiny, disgusted me because of the abundance of dust smacked all over it. As I looked up and gazed at the walls, I saw a lot of posters. There was one promoting INTERACT Club, one promoting DECA, and even one promoting Key Club. The posters were colorful and vibrant, so they did a good job of getting my attention.

While observing all of this, I turned my head left and saw the cafeteria I ate lunch in. It was only an hour away until lunch, and the thought of eating made me hungry. There were students in there taking a survey on their iPads, while being monitored by a teacher. I assumed the students were seniors, as I never saw them hang out with juniors and they looked older than I did. It resembled an office with the CEO/President of the company overlooking employees doing their work. It made me sad how parallel our work lives will be from our high school lives.

Just then, my educator stopped all of us and told us to analyze the bathrooms. The two bathrooms were locked, possibly due to the recent upsurge of vaping going on in the school.

After that, we passed by the robotics and woodworking classrooms.

The woodworking classroom had a high aroma of wood and had tools spread out across the table. It was loud in there – not only because of the machinery sounds, but because of the teacher yelling at the students. When I say loud, I mean loud like when Eagles fans react to the Eagles scoring a touchdown at a home game.

The robotic classroom was empty and desolate – like the hallways – and there was nobody to be seen in the room. The only thing of interest was a robotic arm that was holding a soda can. It as a spectacle to see, as I was always enamoured with robotics, but I never liked it enough to join robotics club or take robotics as a class.

Eventually, we ended up at the entrance of the school. There was a large group of flags hung up near the ceiling. I felt that it represented the different types of students and cultures that are made up of in Eastern.

Another thing I noticed was the abundance of trophies, awards, and jerseys displayed throughout the school. The good amount of those trophies were sports related. If made me wonder if Eastern values athletic achievements over academic achievements. A geriatric teacher would’ve told me otherwise, but the thought resonated with me.

By the time I finished thinking about the athletic awards, we returned to the educator’s classroom.

The educator’s classroom is one of the few places that I genuinely enjoy being in at Eastern. The aesthetics of the classroom were unlike any room I’ve been in at Eastern – even the other English teachers didn’t have rooms like this one.

The six book shelves showed me how crazy and devoted my educator is to reading.

   The Voyager posters showed me how dedicated my educator is into making The Voyager a newspaper everyone would want to read.

The last thing that caught my eye were the records and record player in the corner of the room. Going off of what type of music my educator played before class, I presumed a good number of those records spanned from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.

All of a sudden, the bell rang.

Class was over.

I enjoyed the activity we delved into. It showed me the bright – however small that may be – part of Eastern. Though this penitentiary is hell for the most part, this was heaven for me.

Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist, perfectly describes my experience of the gazebo activity. “Life moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of seconds”.