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The hallways of Niles North are no longer common knowledge

Bella Levavi, News Editor

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As Freshmen start the 2017 school year in a new environment, they walk to the cafeteria passing through an enigmatic large empty hallway illuminated with floor to ceiling windows. Many will think to themselves what could this place be?

The returning students remember this room as the Commons. They will have memories of celebratory breakfasts, large forums, and club meetings taking place in the space. This year, due to safety regulations, it has been transformed into a hallway.

James Edwards, the principal of Niles North, explained, “Last year a safety inspector found that the commons is no longer up to code. The furniture and the movable wall made the emergency exit inaccessible.”

Why the Commons was able to be built in violation of safety regulations in the first place is unclear; one conjecture is that the room was built prior to the adoption of new, more stringent regulations. To meet the current code additional doors will be added to the outdoor entrances of this hallway to provide even more accessibility in the case of an emergency.

There are plans in motion to use the hallway for something other than just an egress. “We have scheduled a painter to turn one of the walls into a large white board. Also, we are planning on making showcases to display student art. Clubs and classes will be welcome to use this large open space as long as they do not install furniture,” Caroline Benjamin, student activities director, said.

The new Commons is located in the 1300 Hallway where the Point+ used to be.  “It is a more intimate space, with a nice view of the courtyard,” Edwards said.

The Commons has been a meeting place for the Niles North community for over 10 years. “I am incredibly sad that we lost such a versatile place. We were able to host fun social events like trivia night, as well as events with a completely different tone, like the Islamic Forum,” Benjamin said.

The Commons will be a staple memory in many NNHS students’ minds. “Freshman year I had a voice recital in the old Commons. It was a wonderful place to hold events because the room was large and uncrowded. I don’t know how we will make up for the lost space,” Lena Folk, senior, recalls her favorite memory.

“Every year yearbook hosts our event in the Commons. The space was always perfect for our Distro party because of its long expanse. We are able to do performances in the front and serve food in the back,” Mevlana Vinca, senior, said.

While the new hallway is open for everyone’s use, a majority of the students of Niles North do not use this new hallway. Only about three to four people walk through it every passing period.

“Every morning Olivia Klafta and I take the ‘new hallway’ to get to class and we’ve never ever seen anyone else in there. It feels like someone accidentally left the Commons open and we’re not supposed to actually be there but we take it anyway!”  Stephanie Brand, Senior, said.

Because the Niles North administration has not adequately communicated with the students about the change in use of the Commons, many students are unaware that it is now a hallway. That, along with the students’  habit of taking the other hallway, has left this new hallway rarely used.  Hopefully, when the hallway is beautified with student art installations, and its new use is publicized, it will again become an important part of the Niles North landscape.

All the technology and furniture have been moved into the new commons, and the space is ready for events to be held in it.

Photo Credit Jeffrey Garcia

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The hallways of Niles North are no longer common knowledge