WJ supplies and facilities fall into disrepair


Photo by Sophia Meytin

A shattered window overlooks the playground in the Child Development classroom. Problems like these have plagued different departments at WJ for years.

Throughout Montgomery County, Walter Johnson High School is known as affluent and well-supplied, and is one of the largest high schools in the county. In reality, it isn’t as put-together as it seems. Staff and students alike are plagued by damaged equipment and facilities which are left unfixed for years.

These issues affect staff and students every day. Hyun Yoo, the Child Development teacher, has faced various such issues in the last few years.

“There’s a broken window in the classroom… The air conditioning is broken in my classroom… I’ve also had a mouse in the room, I’ve had a cockroach problem in here… The display [of the Promethean Board] is really foggy… A lot of the preschool furniture when I came here three years ago was really outdated,” Yoo said.

Yoo has paid for a number of solutions to these issues out-of-pocket, rather than asking for help from the school. However, it still isn’t enough to ensure a safe environment for both her high school and preschool students.

“It’s not clean to have cockroaches especially, and bugs coming back, and the window just again — aesthetically, it doesn’t look good, and to have a broken window in here, especially in a classroom where there’s young children… There needs to be something more done to find the root cause, so that way the bugs don’t come back, and then with the window, it’s been like a year now that it hasn’t been fixed,” Yoo said.

Another persistent area of issues is the equipment and locations used by groups such as WJ S*T*A*G*E. The stage manager overseeing S*T*A*G*E productions and auditorium maintenance this year, senior Felix Bellotti, believes there are a lot of recurring issues.

“The fly system is pretty on again, off again, though it’s currently on, as well as the light board, but I think we might have gotten that fixed. Currently the genie [lift] is broken… The drill press has been broken for like 4 years. Also, the light switch for the auditorium doesn’t work anymore… The sound system isn’t necessarily broken, it’s just shit. Our sound board and mics are great, but the speakers are in a really strange set up, and our antennas don’t really pick up everything they should. Also, the coral mics don’t work,” Bellotti said.

Since even the best equipment is half-broken and mismatched in terms of modernity, it is difficult to use in a cohesive manner, especially in WJ’s facilities.

“Our sound system just can’t support our board or mics, which is why we run into the issues we do. I’d fix the sound if I could. This would definitely make our lives a lot easier,” Bellotti said.

The sound system isn’t the only thing plagued by antiquity — the rest of WJ’s presentational and audiovisual equipment is also generally outdated. James Mulhern, WJ’s Media Services technician, knows there are a lot of work orders out for outdated or broken equipment all over the school.

“Currently, we have work orders going on for the stadium, the stadium speaker system… We are also currently looking at upgrades and trying to get quotes on the digital sign out front because there is some damage to that which needs to be repaired [or possibly replaced due to manufacturing issues]… We are currently in the process of identifying and getting quotes on new projectors and screens in the auditorium,” Mulhern said.

This is all in addition to the outdated Chromebooks and Promethean Boards that are slated to be phased out in the next few years, as well as structural components which have remained unchanged from as far back as the 1960s and can’t accommodate modern technology. However, Mulhern hopes that the school’s issues will be resolved in the future, and believes that the WJ community is doing its best.

“Obviously, we’re not always ahead of the eight ball [in terms of technological advances], sometimes we’re behind it. But overall, we have a great community of people who understand what we are trying to do and help advocate for that,” Mulhern said.