Students find techniques to wade through muddy campus
Gilroy – When Brianna Holladay woke up Tuesday, she had an important decision to make: Be fashionable or be comfortable.
She chose the latter, donning black-and-white checkered rubber rain boots that reached up to her calves. With her blue jeans tucked neatly into her boots, the Gilroy High School junior headed out the door, ready for a muddy, mucky day at school.
“If I wear normal shoes, my feet get cold and wet and I’m uncomfortable all day,” Holladay said. “So I bought some boots.”
A wise purchase, it turns out.
Although gloppy piles of mud and puddles resembling small lakes are common at the high school during rainy seasons, all the construction work on campus this year has made things worse than in previous years. Severe problems have been kept in check since last summer when the school was outfitted with a new drainage system, and patches of land that would be flooded are now dry – well, relatively speaking.
A few years ago, whenever it would rain hard, the lower quad area near the center of campus turned into one giant puddle, as did the student parking lot on the south side of campus. At one point, said GHS assistant principal Greg Camacho-Light, the parking lot flooded all the way up to theater – at least 200 yards away.
The lot was resurfaced last summer, and in the process the drain system was revamped. Additionally, storm drainage throughout the entire campus was more than doubled in capacity, Camacho-Light said.
Although the rain has hindered construction of the high school’s new student center, work on the aquatics center and library has continued as scheduled.
“It’s hit and miss, hit and miss,” Camacho-Light said. “We’re trying to get (the student center) put together in between storms.”
After construction wraps up in roughly a year, Camacho-Light said the plan is to completely redo the high school’s landscape with a design that’s easy to care for, compatible with heavy foot traffic and aesthetically pleasing.
The reason for the excess mud is that several patches of open grass throughout the campus become saturated with rain, Camacho-Light said. Students track the mess around campus as does construction traffic, and as a result, the grass becomes less and less dense by the day.
“Students also tend not to walk on walkways and take the shortest distance to class,” Camacho-Light said. “That’s when they practice their geometry.”
Even with the new drains, the recent deluge – more than an inch or rain fell Monday in Gilroy – has created several large puddles and a whole lot of mud, making for a messy day at school Tuesday. Several students juggled umbrellas along with their usual load of books and backpacks, while some made bold new fashion statements with ratty shoes and rolled-up pants.
GHS senior David Sanchez wanted to wear a new pair of white shoes to school but decided against it. Instead, he wore some old, beat-up black shoes, which were speckled with mud, and two pairs of socks.
“Your feet get all cold and wet, then you’re stuck like that for the rest of the day,” he said. “(The mud is) pretty ridiculous. It’s the worst it’s been since I’ve been here.”
A large puddle ousted a group of three sophomore girls from their usual lunch spot in the quad, forcing them to stand a few feet away on muddy ground.
Although the mud poses several inconveniences, perhaps the biggest is the slippery grass. With even the slightest bit of unsure footing, it’s easy to end up with a bruised behind, or worse – for a high school student, anyway – a bruised ego.
“Invariably, with this many students and this much mud, someone will fall,” Camacho-Light said. “It happened to me a few years ago, and I had mud all over me. So I can sympathize.”
Katie Niekerk covers education for The Dispatch. Reach her at 847-7097 or [email protected]