Jaguars Adapt to Trailer Park Classes


trailer ramps
Trailer classrooms lined up where the former parking lot, basketball court, and tennis courts used to be. Each trailer can be accessed by a ramp for accessibility. (Ariel Lebow)

In a normal school year the bell would ring and thousands of kids would file out into a crowded hallway. For the next few years when the bell rings hundreds of FC students will file out onto what used to be basketball and tennis courts.

At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year about 40 trailers took over most of the student parking lot, the school tennis courts, and an outdoor basketball court, so the school could start to prepare for the upcoming renovation. At the end of the 21-22 school year every Social Studies, English, and World Language teacher had to pack up everything in their classrooms and move it all into one of over forty portable classrooms known as the trailer park.

“There are some benefits to being outside. Being close to the stadium allows us to walk more and there are fewer distractions,” said Social Studies teacher Sorya Or. “Working in our new environment, it is clear that some challenges need to be addressed such as the inclement weather, the number of staff restrooms… or computer issues that take a little longer to fix.” Some teachers have grown to enjoy the change.

“It feels like an adventure,” said English teacher Jay Mahan. “There is a lot of routine and repetitiveness in education and being out here shakes that up. It feels like an adventure.” The administration team has also had to adapt the way they do their jobs.

“The addition of the trailers has essentially doubled the size of our campus. While the size has doubled, the amount of Security personnel we have remains the same,” said Assistant Principal Gabi Ritchey. “We have created zones for the Security team to monitor the various areas of the building and trailers.  We have also moved the location of some offices, to ensure there is adult presence both inside and outside.”

At the beginning of the year the entire school did tardy sweeps to make sure students were in the right place. But after Winter Break outdoor tardy sweeps stopped and teachers in trailers had to start manually marking kids tardy.

“We stopped outside tardy sweeps mainly because there weren’t a lot of teachers helping with the tardy sweeps. It’s just much easier for us to just send the kids to class,” said Safety and Security Assistant Darrian Mangum. “I think it’s better. Everyone is held accountable in the right manner without us having to escort kids to class.” Some students are finding the trailer classrooms to be nice.

“It’s a nice change from the normal classroom setting. Walking around between classes is refreshing and a great opportunity to get a break from school work,” said Jacob Derwinski (10). Other students aren’t enjoying themselves in the trailer park.

“Being in the trailers is not a fun experience. It’s such a closed and confined space,” said Quinn Lopez (11). “Going to the bathroom is even more oppressive…you go from one trailer to another just to use the bathroom.”

According to Assistant Principal Peter Lake, the work being done on the building this year is the addition of a new science and math wing, library, performing arts wing, and newer cafeteria space. Next year they will be working in the front of the school by the Little Theater, current library, and current science hallway. The trailer situation for the 2023-2024 school year will be similar to this year.

“The same classes will be outside next year,” said Lake. “If we get more students then this year, we might need more trailers. It really depends on student enrollment.”

The renovation is set to end in June 2026.

“I am excited for the future generations of kids who will go here,” said Sam Pabotoy (9). “I look forward to a new learning environment. It will be nice to get a change from the old Falls Church.”