The Western Hemisphere

New Tri-Lab Stirs Discussion

Eva Massarelli, Feature Editor

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The modern tri-lab was built over the summer to offer a collaborative lab experience to students at Western Albemarle High School. The purpose of the lab is to get a variety of classes to work together outside the confinements of a traditional class setting.

The open space allows for guest speakers and provides the opportunity to conduct more labs. Mr. Driver believes the lab “creates collaboration between teachers.” The tri-lab enables the school to evolve its teaching methods.

The space formerly consisted of two classrooms and a hallway, which were newly combined to make one larger room. Inside, one half contains a large lab area while the other side’s corners are used as two separate classrooms. 

The tri-lab has linoleum floors and no room dividers, making the space a loud environment. To fix this, sound cushions are currently being installed on the ceiling. Three classes are able to work there during a class period, but presently it is only used by two classes at a time.

Funds for this school improvement, as well as ongoing additions and upgrades, came from the bond referendum passed last year.

At times, Mr. Posovsky and Mrs. Holder use the space and teach their earth science class together. At other times, the classes going on are not related, so the classes do not interact. While the astronomy and earth science classes do not normally interact during the same period, the teachers are planning to form a mentorship program where freshman get to listen to the senior’s astronomy presentations.

Last year, Mr. Posovsky, the senior science department teacher, worked with the science department to help come up with a plan for upgrades to labs in the science classrooms at Western.

“The science department spent a lot of time doing a lot of research and going to different schools to find out effective use of space in labs. When we approached the county and presented, it was a PowerPoint presentation of what we felt would be good, the county listened and then the county went the direction they wanted to go. So, it really was not the science department’s decision to do this. This was a county decision,” Mr. Posovsky said.

Though the tri-lab was not exactly what the teachers wanted, they are working hard and adapting their classes to fit the space.

Students at Western have never had a shared classroom without dividers to close off individual spaces.

“I don’t feel like it is that conducive to actually being able to focus and learn,” India Mawn, a senior in Mr. Posovsky’s astronomy class, said. Mrs. Holder teaches Earth Science at the same time. “I just want to talk to the people in the other class to see what’s going on,” Mawn said.

Lily Argenbright, a junior, takes medical terminology with Mr. Lawson in the tri-lab. This class takes place at the same time as one of Mr. Posovsky’s earth science classes. “For the most part, we don’t do anything in there besides group work, or projects, or just independent work, so it doesn’t really make a difference,” Argenbright said

Her class has an advantage over others using the lab because her teacher, Mr. Lawson, has a normal-sized classroom available for use whenever a quiet space is necessary. “I’m fortunate; I’ve got two rooms that I know I can take my classes to have quiet discussion time,” Mr. Lawson said.

There is a common concern among students about the volume in the room being a distraction. “If you’re sitting where you’re not under this certain spot where the ceiling is lower, then you can’t hear anything,” Mawn said.

“I wish it was quieter because it is very echoey and that’s kind of distracting,”she said.

Both mentioned that when they are in the tri-lab and doing projects, it is easy to get off topic and hard to motivate themselves to actually work. “There’s so much going on that it’s so distracting, and it’s really easy to spread out and just not work,” Mawn said.

When asked if they preferred the tri-lab over a normal classroom setting, both had the same answer. “Honestly, I’d rather be in a smaller classroom,” Argenbright said.

Some teachers agree with the students’ initial complaints about the lab. Mr. Lawson and Mrs. Holder agree that the space is loud, and also have very hopeful outlooks for the future of the room. They think that some improvements are needed in order to make the space less noisy and distracting.

“I think this room can be successful, but I think it’s going to be some evolving of some dividers put in to make it a two classroom setting,” Mr. Lawson said.

This is Mrs. Holder’s first official year of teaching at Western, though she was a student teacher and a long term sub here last year. The noise level is not a big issue for her because her class is more project and discussion based.

“I hope that I get to stay in [the tri-lab] for years to come because I think we are doing some really cool things, and as we understand what the room can do and how to utilize it, we will be able to continue to build on that,” said Mrs. Holder.

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About the Writer
Eva Massarelli, Features Editor

Eva Massarelli is a junior at Western Albemarle High School. This is her third year working on the student newspaper. This year she is the Feature editor. She is on the rowing team at Western, which takes up most of her time. When she has free time, she likes to go on hikes with her friends or spend time in her hammock.

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