North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

The Skyloft falls short of high expectations

After over a year of construction, the new building addition opened in August, including a front entrance, lobby, administrative offices, and a new commons.

There once was a time at Niles North when the Athletic Hall could not be contained. Students loitered around vending machines, skipped class, and ran through the hall because there truly was nowhere else to go. The library and study halls were too quiet, the lobby was closely watched, and the cafeteria was restricted by IDs. What students really needed was a common area, where they could hang out and socialize. The proposal of the Skyloft was a promising one. But what’s a new common area if it’s barely open to the common?

After nearly a year of construction of the new addition of the school, the Skyloft opened in August of 2023. The administration hyped up this new common area as a place for students to collaborate, socialize, and relax. But as of right now, the Skyloft is only open to seniors during the day. Supposedly, juniors are going to be slowly integrated into the space as well. However, the space will never be open to sophomores and freshmen. 

North Star News sent out a poll to all the grades to hear their thoughts on this policy. There was a nearly perfect split of the question of whether the Skyloft should be limited to just seniors and juniors. The “why” behind answers varied.

While it’s understandable that the new space will only be available to juniors and seniors because of seniority and the responsibility that’s required to keep the space clean, it’s already a cramped space. The Skyloft is a lot smaller than most of us would’ve expected, with a comfortable capacity of about 50 people. While that may seem like a lot, during study hall periods 2, 5, and 8, people are turned away from enjoying the space. The Skyloft seating area just stretches down the middle of the third floor, with seating arrangements going down the middle. The furniture is clean and new, there just isn’t a ton of it. 

The Skyloft is lined with classrooms. There are about 10 classrooms up in the Skyloft, which take up the majority of the third floor.  Teachers have utilized these classrooms for a change of scenery, an abundance of collaborating space, and new furniture. However, for the vast amount of classrooms up there, it seems as if they are almost never all filled at once. Can students use these vacant rooms as study rooms during free periods? It seems like it’s not a possibility unless there is a supervisor in the room.

This problem is not limited to the Skyloft. It feels like the student spaces in our school lack any room for students, especially during the busy study hall periods. Students are pushed to the library, while also newly renovated and stunning, tend to run out of space quickly. The library has two study rooms, but the process is rather selective when trying to book one. The Point is only accessible by tutors and tutees. Students can’t get into the Skyloft, they can’t get into the library or the Point, and are left wandering the halls and congregating in the Athletic Hall, which was the problem in the first place.

Students need space. If it can’t be the Skyloft or the library, we need to utilize other areas for students to hang out.”

Students need space. If it can’t be the Skyloft or the library, we need to utilize other areas for students to hang out. The Old Commons and the New Commons are two spaces in the school that are rarely used during the day. In addition to that, the old main office is currently vacant after the new one was built. The courtyards could also be used seasonally. Students are only allowed in the foyer before and after school, but the new lobby offers some of the best seating in the whole school. Spaces for collaboration are especially important because spaces like the library and study hall rooms are meant to be quiet. 

However, this prompts a conversation of the issue of the staffing issue of the school. There aren’t enough security team members to supervise all areas of the school, which is a whole other conversation. 

The Skyloft is a beautiful new space that many other schools would love to have. While the renovation is greatly appreciated, it might be appropriate to say it didn’t live up to the hype in terms of the promise of a student space. Even though it’s understandable that it will only be open to juniors and seniors, our freshmen and sophomores deserve space to socialize and collaborate.

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    Cynthia FeyOct 10, 2023 at 8:54 am

    Thank you for this thoughtful piece and for offering solutions to the need for space for underclass students. Last year students used the Old Commons next to Student Activities to talk and hang out; the couches made it a comfortable space. I’d love to see sophomores and first years relaxing and working there again!