Letter - It’s time for a new Wa-Hi science facility

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Can you put these events in chronological order? A) Countertop microwave ovens hit the market, B) Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, C) grocery store checkouts begin to use bar code scanners, and D) the current Walla Walla High School facility is constructed. Answer (oldest to newest): D, A, B, C.

It may come as a surprise that the current Wa-Hi facility saw a decade of use before the first barcode-triggered beep was heard in a grocery store in 1974.

Put into context, one can begin to appreciate the age of these classrooms. Technology has continued to advance rapidly in the 50 years since Wa-Hi was constructed. This was enough time for NASA’s space shuttle program to be created, run for two decades, and then be retired, yet the science facilities at Wa-Hi have still not seen a significant update.

An updated science facility is not a luxury; it is a necessity to safely and effectively educate our students.

As a chemist with over 15 years of experience, I have been formally trained in chemical safety and am very familiar with the equipment required to work safely in a lab.

At a minimum, a lab must provide a clean and uncrowded work space, efficient ventilation to remove harmful chemical vapors, safe storage space for chemicals and specialized eyewashes and showers. WA-Hi’s science classrooms struggle to provide for these basic needs.

Unfortunately, a minor renovation of the existing space will not solve the problem — the classroom spaces are overcrowded and comprehensive updates to plumbing, ventilation, chemical storage and safety equipment are needed.

The proposed bond measure would support a better education for our students with safer, modernized classrooms. In an updated facility, a wider array of experiments and demonstrations could be performed safely.

Experience with up-to-date equipment and lab techniques would better prepare our students for careers, an increasing number of which demand competence in science.

Providing the students in our community with the best possible education is beneficial to all of us. The time has come to invest in a new science facility at Wa-Hi.

Mark Juhasz

Walla Walla

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