A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Benches in Exeter High School

Students spend a total of 72,000 waking hours in school in their lifetime, which is 3,000 full days. Exeter High School students are no exception—1,640 students come to school for one-fourth of their entire day. While walking through the luxurious, tile-covered floors, you’ll notice there are beautiful wooden benches lining the hallways. During the day, the sun shines directly on the oak veneer, which creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. The benches are accented wonderfully by blue, metal rods that are bolted to the floor evoking a sense of security that no one would steal such benches. The one thing that you won’t see, or ever see, is people sitting on the benches—and that’s for the better. 

The benches at EHS should never be sat on because the benches were never meant for students to sit on. I mean, who really believes that someone would build benches for students to actually sit on? When there is artwork in the hallways, students are not allowed to touch them, take them home or use them in any way. The same goes for the benches. They are works of modern art—bench-like structures not actually meant for sitting, just viewing. 

They are one of the first things you see when you walk into the school: long benches lining the lobby. Of course, seeing no students sitting on the benches makes a new visitor feel as though every student is hard at work, certainly not resting. The visitor immediately envisions students sitting in class listening and focusing on the teacher. The visitor would never suspect the students are sending Snapchat videos of their teachers to their peers down the hall. If we were to allow students to sit on the benches, we would risk our superb academic reputation. 

Furthermore, students spend almost two-fourths of their time sleeping. So with all this sleep, who needs to sit? Students sit in all their classes; and since high school teachers never give any homework, students always come into school well-rested after going to bed early. 

The benches are there to show students to think outside the box. A bench does not need to be used as a bench, and the same thinking should be applied to life. Students should grow to think and act outside of the norm.  We all know that in high school it’s very easy to dress or act differently than your peers, so it should be no problem to view these benches in a nontraditional way.

In the outside world, benches are often times symbols of meeting new people (such as in Forrest Gump); but the next generation doesn’t need to meet people in person. We have technology to fuel our social needs. In fact, our in-person social skills have decreased greatly from other generations. So why try to improve that when technology exists to limit these in-person interactions? Sitting on benches will lead to the sharing of ideas, which could have negative impacts on the students. Kids could talk about their love of drugs, partying, and (worst of all) their dislike of school. Eventually, students could share their thoughts and create an uprising about the abuse of the education system. This can never happen. 

Students should never complain about not being able to sit on benches because that’s simply not what they’re meant for. The EHS benches are simply aesthetic, only for the pleasure of sight, and that’s where their usefulness ends. Teenagers cannot be trusted to use the benches properly; this could cause more work for teachers and administration. Maybe the benches are a tempting distraction to the few who walk in the hallways during class, but it’s far less distracting than if people were actually allowed to sit on them.