Fear More Than A Hall-sweep

North High’s Harrowing Halls Spark High Anxieties

Hailey Gillespie, In-depth Writer

“North has terrible halls.” 

Familiar words for students of Omaha North High, but if one had never attended then they might be led to believe the paint was chipping, or the ceilings were scarred by water damage. They wouldn’t be wrong, but they probably wouldn’t have gotten the intended message. 

At North High, it’s well known that the hallways during passing period typically do not fall under the definition of organized. Going around the school, it’s not hard to find a teacher or security guard who will say those 4 familiar words. 

It’s not hard to get pushed, or shoved, or bumped, or yelled at, or knocked over, either. Many assume it’s because students are violent and aggressive, pushing their way to class and not caring about other’s safety, possibly intending to rough up another kid. I’d argue that’s wrong.  

No one has ever intentionally drove me into the side of a locker, but I’ve certainly been in the wrong place when someone is rough housing with friends. In the middle of the hallway, of course. 

If you’re a student who struggles with trauma, anxiety, and I’m sure much more, then the halls can turn from a way to travel, to the trigger for a panic attack. Personally, I struggle with an anxiety disorder. Passing by hundreds of people in a loud, cramped space while constantly being at risk of being shoved for no reason? Not helpful when you already find your classrooms overwhelming. 

While these seem like little things, they can impact students in much larger ways. For me, it meant not coming to school. The thought of dealing with such direct discomfort on top of overwhelming classes kept me in bed. On occasion, I would want to stay home but attempt to “tough through it,” which typically just put me in the counselor’s office, unable to function properly, for a class period or two. Sometimes I just went home early. 

There are many possible solutions, but as a student who struggles with this personally, my main want is to have less people in the halls. Other schools in the district, such as McMillan Middle School, have a wide variety of systems for handling the number of kids in the hall at a given time. At McMillan, this involves having different bells for different grades. 

For North High however, this solution isn’t quite so straight forward. We have a large number of mixed classes, and so releasing one set of students before the other creates a gap in the time that they have together as a full class. I’m positive that there are good solutions to this, however, like having bell work during those times. 

Whatever the best solution may be, our current situation is not it. I think the school system in general could do a lot more to assist with student mental health, and this is a good first step. Not even just for student mental health, but for student safety, teacher safety, and the sake of not driving teachers further to insanity.