Wheaton North's Past: The Building
By: Lena Forbes
Throughout the years, the students and faculty of Wheaton North are forever changing, but the history they form leaves a mark on North forever. Here are just a few stories about Wheaton North’s physical past:
The Flood in the LLC:
In December of 2013, a pipe burst in Wheaton North’s LLC, leading to flooding throughout the library and surrounding classrooms. In the words of Mrs. Pigoni, “The water was hot and ran fast, so condensation dripped from the ceiling all over the books, computers, and (at the time!) carpet. It was a disaster.” Although this destruction was vast and unimaginable, the LLC’s resources were still needed by the school; Mrs. Pigoni says she “became a librarian on wheels as the LLC staff set up shop in closets, the Main Office, 802-804 -- anywhere [they] could find a seat and hook up a computer.”
The principal at the time, Ms. Bullo, as well as numerous other teachers, students, parents, and members of the community came together to make sure that this was not the end of the LLC. They fundraised and created an opportunity for the LLC to grow into what it is known as today. A team of “book savers in black” came to recover the hundreds of books within the library by taking them to a special facility that saves water-damaged books. The carpet, furniture, walls, technology, and other damaged LLC materials were taken out and replaced. Mrs. Pigoni and others worked to create a new and improved space for the LLC to exist. Before, it was a mix of big bookcases and heavy tables, chairs, and equipment that were no longer fitting North’s needs; however, the creation of the new LLC aimed to grow the idea of a “flexible, collaborative, bright, welcoming space.”
Now, there are about 20,000 student check-ins to the library within a normal semester, pre-COVID 19. As Mrs. Pigoni says, “the LLC flood was awful, but the results are awesome.”
(collage of photos - LLC FLOOD PICTURES)
Before the early 2000s, Wheaton North was much smaller than it is today. The commons, 800 & 900 hallway, fieldhouse, and many other parts of the current Wheaton North structure were nonexistent. While the school was functional under its previous structure, higher numbers of students were making it difficult to work in a smaller space. In addition, North embodied the same desires it does today, creating opportunities for each and every falcon to fly, whether that is in the classroom, through music, athletics, clubs, etc. In order for students to fully shine in this way, Wheaton North also used this addition to expand athletics with the fieldhouse and create more space for extracurricular activities to take place.
During the years of construction, two outdoor modular classrooms were brought to the school. Mrs. Martin taught math in a red modular building outside. She mentioned that these outdoor classrooms brought on some challenges such as finding a place for students to step into the “hall” for makeup work and figuring out how to teach away from the normalcy of a familiar room. One very memorable day in this unconventional classroom for Mrs. Martin was 9/11, with the unsettling feelings that covered the country after the twin towers fell, it is understandable that a modular classroom would be a difficult place to be inside of. However, looking back, Mrs. Martin feels it was definitely worth it for the changes that were coming.
Another unconventional part of this addition came in relation to lunches. The cafeteria underwent some renovations and additions during this time, and without the commons, students were left without a place to eat. Each lunch period, they would line the halls to eat their lunches on the floors.
Mrs. Martin brings up an important point by saying that “even though the walls changed...the vision of the school has stayed the same.” The added facilities and parts of the building that came with the expansion are incredible, but the people who make Wheaton North what it is are irreplaceable.
These are just a few incredible moments within the entirety of North’s past, and in reality, with the COVID 19 pandemic this school year, we are making history every single day.