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The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

More Students, Less Space

A rise in admissions results in a lack of space as the ULab is finalized

Over the past couple of years, class sizes have been on the rise, causing space throughout campus to decrease significantly. This fall, University Prep reached an intermediate stage between the increase in class sizes and the opening of the ULab within the next few months.
One of the most negatively affected areas due to the increase of students is the commons.
“The lunch line is so much longer than it used to be,” senior Boden Wise said.
While the area has always been an element of frustration for students, the increase in enrollment did not help the cause.
“The commons was never exactly anything other than chaotic, but I think it’s obviously a lot worse now. And I think the hallways are even more packed than they were,” senior Naz Kuti said.

Between the lunch line and the limited seating capacity, lunchtime is busy and chaotic in the commons.
“We continue to look at sort of flows of lunch, and making sure that we could get through lunch on time,” Director of Innovation and Experiential Education Brian Gonzales said.
Gonzales has been working over the past few years on creating more space for students on campus and has been a key figure in the planning of the ULab. The lunch line isn’t the only problem that the school is grappling with.

Some teachers are expressing concern for how crowded their classes are.
“It feels more crowded during labs and stuff. It can sometimes feel like we just have to be really careful,” science teacher Karen Slon said. “It’s a safety issue.”

Slon, and the rest of the science teachers had to move to a temporary office in the back of the library. The senior leadership team, comprised of division directors, head of school, and other key administrators, decided to move many offices before the start of school in order to make more room for classroom space around campus.
“The senior leadership team prioritized converting staff offices into classrooms,” Gonzales said.
With new classrooms in former offices, subjects like math and English moved from their traditional locations in the classroom building to different areas across campus.
“My classes have now been pushed into little corners of the school. I don’t have enough space to breathe anymore. It’s infuriating,” Wise said.

Kuti echoes the frustrations shared by her fellow classmate.
“It just sort of feels like everything’s been shuffled around,” Kuti said. “It’s kind of like they’re just playing musical chairs with rooms at this point.”

Even with more classrooms scattered across campus, the class sizes continue to increase. According to registrar Stephanie Jewett, the average upper school class size this year is just under 14 students per class, but for more in-demand classes, the average is closer to 18.
“Over the past five years, my class sizes have been steadily increasing. It used to be that my average was like, 15. Sixteen used to be a big class and then you would have ones that were smaller. And now all of my classes are 18-ish,” Slon said.

From the 2022-2023 school year to the 2023-2024 school year, the sixth grade class size has seen a 15% increase in students, and the ninth grade has seen a 13% increase. As the school has grown, the need for space has risen significantly.
The ULab, which is on track to finish in late fall of 2023, according to Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations Susan Lansverk, will provide much-needed relief and space for the UPrep faculty and student body.

“It’s 40,000 square feet that we’re adding on to 100,000 square feet here. So if you think about it, that’s a big increase in space,” Lansverk said.


The new building will allow for indoor-outdoor classrooms and more space overall for students to spread out across campus.
“We’re adding 40% more great spaces. Which is going to be a game-changer for us,” Lansverk said.

Lansverk has worked at UPrep for 16 years and has been in charge of many large facility projects such as the renovations of both the gym and commons. In addition to construction projects, Lansverk has seen firsthand many other ways that the school has grown in her time at UPrep.

“Programs have changed. Schedules have changed,” Lansverk said. “There’s a lot of natural evolution, a lot of new initiatives in terms of programs.”
Students are excited for the many specialized environments that ULab offers.

“If we have a building, we can just use it for what we need to use it for. I feel like it’ll be much more focused and a much more stable, calm kind of environment where we can do what we need to and get a lot more accomplished,” Kuti said.

The ULab faced many setbacks and challenges that prevented it from opening at the start of this school year.
“Our permit took a very, very long time to get. And when we thought we would be getting it, we still didn’t get it, and that was really out of our control,” Lansverk said.

Other uncontrollable events have also slowed down construction. According to Lansverk, the effects of COVID-19 dramatically slowed down the process and raised the prices of materials.

“[There were] cost issues with inflation, and supply chain. So that was both a cost issue and just being able to get stuff was hard,” Lansverk said.
Despite all of these challenges, the administration has worked to fix the issues and make the UPrep campus a better place for students.

“I would love to thank the students for just being so wonderful about us being crowded,” Gonzalez said. “I know they’re excited about the building opening, but they really have been wonderful.”

About the Contributors
Hannah Salemy
Hannah Salemy, Reporter
Hannah Salemy is a reporter on the staff of the Puma Press. She is a ninth-grader and is new to the staff this year, but she was previously a reporter for the Puma Prints. She loves to write fun experimental stories for people to enjoy. Her favorite part of journalism is the people she gets to talk to and learn from. Outside of school, she enjoys soccer and writing poetry.
Avi Patel
Avi Patel, Business Manager and Graphics Editor
Avi Patel is the Business Manager and Graphics Editor for the Puma Press. He is a sophomore and this is his second year on staff. He loves writing news stories and op-eds. His favorite part of journalism is providing the community with reliable and accurate information, and sharing stories that students and faculty would not hear otherwise. Outside of journalism, he enjoys playing squash, hiking, and spending time with his family and friends.