So apparently, school lockers are becoming extinct:

All of the students we spoke with at Parkway West and Ladue, estimate about 95% of upperclassmen don’t use lockers.

“I see a lot of students carrying around very heavy backpacks, with their locker with them, a portable locker,” said Eileen Kiser, spanish teacher at Parkway West.

Several reasons are given when you ask “why” students today don’t use lockers; don’t have as many books because of newer technology, rather carry all items with them, and lockers are no longer used as a gathering spot to talk to classmates.

“Our lockers aren’t meeting places anymore because we are talking a lot through texts, so we don’t have to meet and share gossip at the lockers or anything,” Shanker said.

While we found no schools locally that have done away with lockers, a recent USA Today article says it’s a growing trend. KAI Design and Build, an architecture firm based in St. Louis, has designed two schools without lockers in Texas. KAI President, Darren James feels its only a matter of time before you see new schools in St. Louis being built lockerless. James says their statistics also show about 95 percent of students don’t use lockers. Some local teachers also feel, lockerless schools could be in the future.

Maybe I was ahead of my time! At least, until I regressed.

When I was in high school, I used to carry around all of my books in a huge duffel bag. Sometimes I would sell the use of my locker to others. My high school was rather large and the lockers are always along the periphery, which meant that they were never centrally located or easily accessible. The result was that the bag was severely overloaded and had to be replaced every year or so. Same make, same model, start all over again.

What changed things was the campus news program. I actually saw myself in the hallway and was horrified by what I saw. I was so… slouched. I’d learned by that point that posture matters, and so the next week I asked my parents to get me a traditional Jansport backpack and started switching at lunch time. Within a week, two girls commented that there was “something different” about me. Both meant it entirely complimentary.

Even the elementary schools in Redstone have lockers. They didn’t in my school system. This may actually be somewhat indicative of what the article is talking about, though. The schools in Redstone trend to the very old. The ones in my district were new. Newer schools, less likely to have lockers.

Getting rid of lockers presents a logistical challenge. Having “classroom books” makes it more difficult to assign homework (though more likely that the kids have books in class). I suppose it works to have a classroom set of books and a book for each student. A little more expensive, but school districts are (or often can be) less than rigorous about replacing textbooks. The Redstone textbooks still include Yugoslavia, which is not insignificant when you consider the heavy Slavic population of teachers (I’ve noticed a trend among teachers with Slavic names that they actually have maps of eastern Europe on the wall even if they’re not teaching social studies).

Having assurances that kids do have their books in class is rather important. The alternative is that they stare at you blank-eyed or that they “read off a neighbor” which makes classroom enforcement more difficult. I do fear that, however, without the accommodations of a locker and/or a classroom sets that more kids will simply keep their books at home rather than lug them around school all day like I did.

Category: School

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10 Responses to The End of the Locker?

  1. Peter says:

    Without lockers, what can nerds be stuffed into?

  2. Peter says:

    Without lockers, what can nerds be stuffed into?

  3. David Alexander says:

    FWIW, my elementary schools didn’t have lockers*, but closets in the classrooms to hold bookbags and coats. In the Catholic School equivalent of Junior High School, we ended up walking from one class to the other with books that we needed, but again, with no lockers. In contrast, our high school had lockers and it was where we kept our personal items and such, and most students would use their bookbags** to ferry their books and supplies to class within the five minute window allotted to us for that. Since our lockers are laid out along the entire length of the hallway, and our school is a L-shaped building, you’d have to prepare wisely if one had classes on the opposite side of the building. Freshmen would carry all of their books, and seniors would carry their books or have nearly empty bookbags. Luckily for us, we weren’t textbook heavy as the classrooms would hold the textbooks for us or we’d simply follow the lecture of the teacher.

    *One school dates to the late 1940s. Another dates to the 1930s with a 1960s extension. Both do not have AC with the exception of the Principal’s office.

    **Or for some of us, by senior year, a messenger bag. How I loved my Nautica branded messenger bag…

  4. trumwill says:

    The junior high in Redstone is actually U-shaped (as are a couple of the elementaries and the alternative school). And two-story at that. My middle school back home was more populated, but it was easier to navigate (class-locker-class). We had five minutes to Redstone’s three, though. I don’t know how they are expected to get anywhere in three minutes. I ignore reasonable tardies.

    The high school situation is about the same. My high school is/was bigger, but it was not badly laid out. Redstone’s high school is multiple buildings and up to four floors. They get five minutes between classes compared to our three, though they might do a better job of separating that out by building (freshmen over here, seniors over there, etc.)

  5. Brandon Berg says:

    I may be wrong about this, but I don’t recall having a locker in high school (class of 98), except for gym class. Other than that, I think we carried our stuff around all day. I do remember having a locker in a private junior high school I attended for about two months before the other students’ parents pressured the administration into kicking me out.

  6. Brandon Berg says:

    I think that we typically kept many of our books at home, and that this wasn’t really a problem. Many classes had a lecture/discussion format, with books used for independent reading assignments and other homework. For in-class work we often used worksheets, and I believe we had photocopied reference guides for stuff like calculus and chemistry.

  7. trumwill says:

    I do remember having a locker in a private junior high school I attended for about two months before the other students’ parents pressured the administration into kicking me out.

    I want to hear this story.

  8. Brandon Berg says:

    As is often the case, the teaser’s better than the story itself. The school was Christian, and I was not. The flattering version of the story is that I asked questions and raised points in classroom and hallway discussions that challenged the prevailing dogma. The less-flattering version is that I was a know-it-all jerk. I don’t remember which is closer to the truth. I’m pretty sure I used the word “brainwashed” on at least one occasion, so there’s that.

    In any case, apparently word of this got back to parents of some of the other students, and of course some of them were not terribly happy about this, having specifically paid to have their children taught good Christian values. There was a conference between my parents and the administration, after which my parents informed me that I would be transferring to the local public school.

    The reason I was at a Christian school when my family was not Christian is that they had an adjoining high school, which I needed because I was ahead of grade level in math. The ultimate solution involved a teacher at the public school privately tutoring me and one other student after school.

    The story of how I ended up ahead of grade level in math is also interesting. A few weeks after I started kindergarten, they noticed that I had abnormally strong reading skills (which is to say, any at all).

    So they gave me a bunch of tests and informally promoted me to second grade. By “informally,” I mean that I was officially still in kindergarten and would report there for role call before marching over to the 2nd-/3rd-grade classroom (our school was that small) for the remainder of the day.

    It also meant that at the beginning of the next year, I received, for the second year in a row, a new set of second-grade textbooks. Except for math, for some reason. For math, they have me a third-grade textbook. I was too shy to say anything, so I ended up repeating second grade in every subject but math and reading. I’m not entirely sure how this escaped my parents’ attention.

    The next year they gave me a bunch of second-grade textbooks for the third year in a row. By this point I’d had about enough of this second grade business, so I spoke up and they gave me the third-grade books. Later that year they officially promoted me to third grade, putting me at grade level for all subjects except math and reading.

  9. trumwill says:

    Brandon Berg, hellraiser from a young age.

    Do you mind my asking which part of the country you were raised in?

  10. Brandon Berg says:

    Quite literally, apparently.

    San Diego.

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