Raymond Hall: A Tale of Two Different Stories

The Raymond renovation is a hot topic in the world of Hackley.  The current plans deal with the hallways in Raymond Hall, the oldest academic building on campus. Students and teachers agree that the classrooms and hallways are in need of improvement.  The second floor passage connecting Goodhue to Raymond Hall promises to allow easy access for handicapped students.  The first floor will become an open-air passage way.

The divide in opinion, however, lies in the practicality of the changes, and whether they will improve the academic life of students, or simply beautify the campus.

Offices and a student lounge will be located in the second floor connecting hallway. Below that, the first floor will become an open-air passageway, allowing for viewing of Akin Common, the Lower School, and the Hackley landscape from the Quad.

The second floor, connecting Goodhue and Raymond, has received positive reviews from both students and teachers. The second floor hallway is largely accepted by the students and faculty alike, who believe it will prove beneficial to the Hackley population. It will provides an extra lounge space, in addition to access to the second floor of Raymond for both handicapped students and those who simply don’t want to traverse Hackley’s many flights of stairs. Access to the library from the math and language corridor will be easier and will aid students in getting to class on time.

However, it is the idea of the first floor that is contentious.  It is a purely aesthetic feature that it serves no educational purpose. Practicality should not be done away with in sake of beautification; it is a questionable use of tuition and grant money, when that money could perhaps address more pressing issues, like the Performing Arts Center or carpeting in the freshman hallway.

The open-air passageway may also make going between buildings a greater inconvenience during winter months. When the renovations are made, students will face a similar dilemma as when they cross through the courtyard from the freshmen hallway to the science building; the cold weather could prompt them to take an alternate route, and make them late for class.

This construction could also be disruptive to actual class time, if the renovations exceed their expected completion time.  The construction is set to begin in June, shortly after school concludes, and will take months. Construction should be completed by fall 2014.

Goodhue renovations began in 2007 and did not conclude until 2010. If the only purpose of the open-air passage way is to show off the admittedly beautiful Hackley campus, then it and the construction it entails are unnecessary for the betterment of the school.

The building of the passageway would require cutting down the weeping birch tree that stands in front of the first floor Raymond to Goodhue hallway. This tree has stood there for years, and carved in its bark are the names of countless current and former Hackley students.

It would be an incredible shame for the tree’s natural beauty to be destroyed in favor of the passageway. HEAL has started a petition in opposition for the plans to cut down the tree. The petition currently boasts over 80 signatures.

The renovations to Raymond Hall are a multi-faceted issue; they are not as simple as they appear. They seemingly sacrifice convenience for aesthetics in the lower floor, but provide the long-awaited passage from the math hallway to the library on the upper level. The renovations promise to improve the Hackley campus, but not necessarily in the way that it needs. The first and only priority should be the improvement of the academic space, not simply the aesthetics.