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Oh how the tables have turned

Over+Thanksgiving+break+desks+are+found+strewn+about+the+campus+of+Ralph+Dunlap%2C+being+replaced+with+brand+new+furniture+from+Measure+G.
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Oh how the tables have turned

Over Thanksgiving break desks are found strewn about the campus of Ralph Dunlap, being replaced with brand new furniture from Measure G.

Over Thanksgiving break desks are found strewn about the campus of Ralph Dunlap, being replaced with brand new furniture from Measure G.

Peyton Heath

Over Thanksgiving break desks are found strewn about the campus of Ralph Dunlap, being replaced with brand new furniture from Measure G.

Peyton Heath

Peyton Heath

Over Thanksgiving break desks are found strewn about the campus of Ralph Dunlap, being replaced with brand new furniture from Measure G.

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When elementary students of the Orcutt Union School District returned from their Thanksgiving break, they were greeted with new desks. Using funding from a 2016 bond measure called “Measure G”, the district replaced old dilapidated desks with new types, all in an effort to make classrooms more “flexible.”

According to the Alice Salazar, the administrative assistant to Dr. Blow (OUSD’s superintendent) and the board of trustees, all elementary classrooms received new desks. Each teacher had the choice between rectangular desks that can be folded up and put to the side to create more room for classroom activities, or “honeycomb desks” which are individual, mobile desks that can be assembled into a hexagonal circle for group activities. Ultimately, “honeycomb” desks were chosen to allow the teachers more “flexibility” to transition from more orthodox lecture format into group activities, which Salazar says is the district’s goal.

 

Salazar explains that this was the first stage of installation of the new “flexible desks” with plans of installing new desks in Orcutt Junior High, Lakeview Junior High, And Orcutt Academy High School likely to come in two to three years.

Walter Con, assistant superintendent of business services, explains the significance of changing  of desks, stating:

“It’s about how teachers lead [while] teaching in classrooms today… in the old days there was a lot of lecturing… and in the recent years there is a lot more collaboration.”

According to Con, the reason the junior highs and OA didn’t get new desks over Thanksgiving break was mainly rooted in the fact that students move from classroom to classroom, and each class has a specialized function. For instance, a history class might require a different set of furniture than a science class, Con states. The plan is to get feedback from the K-6 classes, as Con remarks. Con then would conclude “what flexible furniture [would] look like at the junior high(s) and high school.” However, if down the road, the district finds other options more advantageous for the junior high and high school, Con says they will keep their options open.

Con reports that in the test classrooms that have already had the flexible furniture, he has received nothing but positive comments from students. However, Salazar reminded that with any kind of change in a classroom, there’s always going to be a challenge. Salazar says the reaction from teachers is two fold, on one hand, she says, they are excited about new furniture, on the other hand, the work the teachers must put in to alter their classroom is always a bit difficult.

Mary Francisco, a 4th and 5th grade teacher at Ralph Dunlap Elementary School, says she is very “grateful” for the new desks because the old ones were exceedingly dated, including some desks that presented some safety hazards for students as well. According to Mary Francisco, some desks had sharp metal pieces that were exposed. One student in Francisco’s class says she especially likes the new chairs, which allow the students to “rock in them.” Another group of boys from Francisco’s class report that “the new furniture looks cool.”

However, not all the feedback is positive. Francisco does admit that the chairs take up a lot more room than the old ones and students say that storage is indeed lacking with the new desks. Shannon Day, a kindergarten teacher at Ralph Dunlap, echoes Francisco’s thoughts. Day remarks that she is a big fan of the chairs “but the tables are not wide enough for my kinder projects… So I do miss my old tables. [The old tables] were a lot more sturdier.”

While the feedback on our elementary schools receiving new tables is mixed, it is safe to say that everyone is appreciative of the new efforts to improve collaboration and mobility in classrooms.

Certainly, it is unclear what the impact of the flexible desks will have on elementary schools in Orcutt, yet one thing is for sure, as the OUSD spends the rest of it’s Measure G funding, it’ll continue to try and be more flexible.

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About the Writer
Caden McCune, Reporter

I am excited to start my first year in journalism and learn more about the world of reporting news. For this year I hope to be able to learn how to become...

1 Comment

One Response to “Oh how the tables have turned”

  1. Adelyn Gaither on December 11th, 2018 9:38 AM

    Love the title!! I like how you got quotes from several different grade teachers on the positives and negatives of the new desks. Keep up the good work!

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