During the last few months of the 2017-18 school year, one row of bleachers was replaced with new seats. What the students thought would be a good improvement to the gym infrastructure has angered them because the row of seats does not match the old remaining ones. So why did the administration do this?
According to Athletic Director Anthony Verderame, the administration never had the intention to replace the row of seats; their goal was to make safety and mechanical improvements to the bleachers as a whole. This included getting new motors and belts, fixing the broken wheels, and attaching the bleachers to the wall, which cost the school approximately $35,000. “99% of the improvements to the bleachers will not be seen because they were mechanical,” said Verderame. After all these fixes were made, the administration decided to replace only the broken seats to continue making the bleachers safer for visitors.
Since the current seats have not been replaced for many years, they are no longer available to buy. The visual factor was not completely ignored as the administration made this fix since they decided instead of having the new seats placed sporadically throughout the gym, to use the first row of old seats to replace all the broken ones and put the new ones only in the first row.
One question still seems to be unanswered: does having the mismatched row of bleachers affect how people view the gym? Verderame says no: “People visiting the school to watch sporting events will not notice the new seats since they are placed on the side that people sit on. This means they will be sitting on the seats, not looking at them.” He also expressed that they are less noticeable when the bleachers are pulled out. Principal Vincent DeNuzzo shares this view, noting that he is less bothered by the non matching row because people will not see it during games.
However, the student body does not seem to look at it this way. Cheerleader Haley Kozlowski who practices and cheers for basketball in the gym says, “It is the first thing I notice when I walk into the gym.” Fellow student-athlete Diana Kalman, member of the volleyball team, thinks it makes our school look unorganized and referred to only replacing the broken seats as “putting a bandaid on the problem.” She feels that not having all the seats match takes away from the new floor and other gym improvements made over the summer. In addition, non-student athletes seem to be bothered by the bleachers as well. Talia Ferraro, a senior at the school, said they happened to be putting the new bleacher seats in during her gym class last year. Assuming they were going to replace them all, she was very excited and thought it would look so nice. She is disappointed that they only did one row and feels that it does not look visually pleasing because they are “mismatched.”
The difference in opinions here comes down to the differing priorities of the administrators and student body. The student body is solely concerned about the visual appeal of the bleachers; whereas, Verderame and the maintenance crew are concerned about safety. Verderame explained that the bleachers were becoming unsafe to hold the weight of the bustling crowds at sporting events, so he made it a priority to fix them. A ballpark estimate to replace all the seats would be about $60,000. Verderame, who considers it a waste of money, says who cares if the bleachers do not match, he would rather spend the money on bigger priorities such as redoing the football field and tennis courts. For now, the students are going to have to accept and embrace the one new mismatched row of bleachers.