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The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Allderdice Updates
The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Behind Allderdice’s Bathroom Closures

The+locked+door+of+the+second-floor+main+Womens+restroom+with+a+sign+that+reads%3A+The+closest+womens+room+is+directly+upstairs+or+youll+find+one+in+the+2nd+fl.+annex.
Isaac Gildengers
The locked door of the second-floor main Women’s restroom with a sign that reads: “The closest women’s room is directly upstairs or you’ll find one in the 2nd fl. annex.”

Over the past few years, both Pittsburgh Public Schools and Allderdice have implemented stricter policies to moderate student behavior and ensure safety in the school. Coming back from the pandemic, the bathrooms in the school’s annex were locked and the number of school security guards increased. At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, bag-searching measures in the morning became more comprehensive. Additionally, students have been required to empty out water bottles before entering into the building. While these policies offer benefits to the school, there are drawbacks for students. 

There are many reasons why the annex bathrooms are locked. If students are crowding the bathrooms in between classes, closing them down is an efficient solution to get students out of the bathroom and back to class. By keeping the annex bathrooms closed, staff have one less crowd of students to deal with. However, when one bathroom is closed people flock over to another. 

Furthermore, the majority of the bathrooms in the school are dilapidated. Many factors have contributed to the demise of the Allderdice bathrooms, one of them being intentional destruction. Following the return to in-person school in the fall of 2021, bathrooms within the school were ruined as a result of “devious licks” – an internet trend in which people stole or destroyed parts of buildings, particularly schools. Keeping the bathrooms open during such a period became a great burden for the school.

“They originally started closing the bathrooms after the pandemic when we came back. The bathrooms were being destroyed…The bathrooms needed to be cleaned and repaired. It was so bad that they needed to close them. It was costing the school and the district a lot of money. They had to replace the parts and get custodial time. That was a huge issue.” says social studies teacher Mrs. Price.

Even after the uproar has died down, bathrooms in Allderdice continue to be destroyed.

“Some of the bathrooms have been closed throughout the year due to destruction. At one point this year one of the bathrooms on the second floor was shut down after the counterweight on the door was taken out.” said school security guard Pat Ferguson. 

Historically, fixing the bathrooms has not been easy. “The school [bathrooms] have been in disrepair for quite some time,” continued Mrs. Price.

This is likely due to not only the cost of renovations but also the impracticality as changes would likely not last. The school’s complacency has led to many of the bathrooms operating without paper towels or soap. Routine maintenance is rendered useless after repeated bathroom destruction. After decades without repair, the bathrooms in the school resemble something in between a canvas for graffiti and a rendezvous for students in between classes. 

Another reason for the continued closure of the annex bathrooms is students vaping in the bathrooms.  Many high schools face this issue as vaping is common among teens nationally. The FDA’s Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2023 finds that 2.8 million youth use tobacco products. 

Closing the bathrooms in response to students vaping, or even smoking, is not an uncommon action for high schools to take in response to student behavior. A high school in Raleigh, North Carolina also closed some of its bathrooms as a response to students’ habitual vaping. 

However, some of the reactions might be unique to Allderdice. At the end of 2023, some teachers closed bathrooms in the main building on multiple floors in response to students crowding the bathroom. This was done without approval from administrators. 

Abrupt decisions like this by the school, or even faculty, have consequences, as closures can be inconvenient for students. Without the knowledge of bathroom closures, students can be lost trying to find an open facility.

“I think that it is ridiculous because it takes more of my time walking to classes. I think it would be easier to have them open. As it is right now a lot of the bathrooms in the building are closed. It takes maybe a total of four extra minutes.” said Allderdice sophomore Graham Whitacre. 

Having the annex bathrooms closed has the same effect. 

“I think that they should open them because I have annex classes. It is a far walk. Some teachers give us time limits on how long we should be out and it takes time for us to get all the way over [to the bathroom]. I think that they should open them so that we can make the [process] faster and have less people in the hall.” said Allderdice freshman Wakeel Abdullah.

Closures make the school day even more complicated for students. Five-minute closures at the start and end of 40-minute periods, and multiple “closed periods” throughout the day limit student’s ability to use a facility for an essential need. 

Even though the current bathroom policies are far from a first choice, the school has limited options. What takes place during school hours and on the school grounds is the school’s responsibility. The bathroom policies find the easiest way to solve the issue, even if the solution is not the most effective. 

Student behavior throughout the years has not changed drastically. 

“I went to this school. Many of the same issues are still going on. I think at any large school anything can happen. ” concludes Mrs. Price. 

The reason for this is likely that underlying issues are too difficult to solve. Why students choose to vape in the bathrooms or tear down stalls and sinks is unclear. Preventing such things from happening entirely is impossible. Students rarely engage in malicious activity in the bathrooms as often, people in the bathrooms are actually using the bathrooms. 

Although, many students hang out in the bathrooms in between class periods since the hallways in the school are often crowded. 

“I know you like to see each other and congregate. I went here. I understand that you want to see your friends real quick.” said Mr. Ferguson. 

For the time being, students at Allderdice will continue to make use of the limited bathrooms open.

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About the Contributor
Isaac Gildengers, Staff Writer
Isaac Gildengers is a senior at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School. Outside of school he enjoys playing sports with friends. He also likes to cook with his family.

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