Revealed: The reason why nobody is allowed in the courtyard


Connor Rahill

Despite the snow, the courtyard with its bushes and benches teases students who have never been allowed inside.

Everyone at BSM passes by the vacant courtyard located between the main hallway and the Banner Technology Center’s science rooms every day, but barely anyone knows the courtyard’s history. Besides some trees, flowers, benches, and a sidewalk, the courtyard is empty, and few people in the community are actually able to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Why can’t I be in the courtyard?

The courtyard was built in 1996 along with the Banner Technology Center. According to Community Events Director Ms. Fran O’Keefe, who has been working at BSM for 43 years, the Banner Technology Center was originally going to be built right next to the math rooms. However, this would have resulted in the windows in the math rooms being replaced with a brick wall, cutting off all natural light. “In order to still allow the math rooms to have windows… they designed it so that there would be a courtyard in between,” O’Keefe said.

During warm-weathered seasons, the courtyard could potentially be a peaceful area for students to socialize or study while basking in the springtime’s sunlight; yet the doors to the enclosed space remain locked. O’Keefe believes that this is because students in the math rooms may be distracted by students in the courtyard. “[Students] would be in the courtyard making noise while math classes were going on,” O’Keefe said.

Another potential problem is the girls’ bathroom having window access to the courtyard. In the past, the administration has tried to counteract this issue, but to no avail. “They put up frosted glass, but there were still boys knocking on the window and making people feel uncomfortable in there,” Assistant Principal Cami Dahlstrom said.

Dahlstrom believes that this issue could potentially be resolved by replacing the bathroom windows with a wall. Dahlstrom would like to see the problems surrounding the courtyard solved so that it could be a space for students. “If we could come up with a solution for that, I think it would be great; I think students need outside time during the day,” Dahlstrom said.

If you could, would you make use of the courtyard?

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Dahlstrom also suggests that other outside areas could potentially be utilized by students during the school day. Dahlstrom proposes that picnic tables could be set up outside the BSM Commons/Cafeteria so students could enjoy their lunch in the fresh outdoors. “Wouldn’t that be great?” Dahlstrom said.

However, Dahlstrom doubts that the courtyard could realistically work as a recreational or silent work area after school hours. After school, students are only allowed to be in areas under staff supervision such as the Library, Haben Center, and Commons. Dahlstrom doesn’t think that the school would get a supervisor to monitor the courtyard. “I don’t think there’s that great of a need for it,” Dahlstrom said.

Senior Veronica Nowakowski brings up a potential solution to this issue. Nowakowski thinks that BSM could implement senior prefects in place of teacher supervisors to watch over students in the courtyard. Prefects are students that have higher administration responsibilities than other students and lead or guide their peers. While prefects aren’t commonly used in the United States, Nowakowski believes that prefects would be an effective way to provide supervision without requiring a faculty member to oversee the students. “I think having a senior that has that free hour being a supervisor over the courtyard would be a good idea,” Nowakowski said.

Students have expressed their clear interest in being in the courtyard. In a student survey, 36% of respondents said that they are very adamant about opening the courtyard, and an additional 39% of students also rated the courtyard’s availability as a high concern. Nowakowski thinks that being outside during the school day would make students happier, specifically during Minnesota’s limited sunny seasons. “We live in a state that doesn’t have a lot of warm months, so being able to be outside during those few warm months would be very beneficial,” Nowakowski said.