By Tillie Davies, Kristy Kocot, Elise Bilodeau, and Celeste Amron
The capacity issues at T.C. have been persistently growing over the past decade. T.C. is the largest high school (grades 9-12) in Virginia with 3,949 students enrolled at both the King Street and Minnie Howard Campus. Jessica Hillery, the Minnie Howard Lead Administrator for Operations, said, “We are outgrowing Minnie Howard as we speak.”
The maximum capacity at the King Street gymnasium is 3,000 people by order of the Fire Marshall. It is unsafe to hold pep rallies and other school-wide events in the gym because it would exceed this maximum capacity, according to the administration.
In the fall, the 1,217 freshmen had to have a homecoming pep rally separate from the 2,732 students enrolled at the King Street campus. In the past, the freshmen had to walk from the Minnie Howard Campus to the King Street Campus to participate in the pep rally. Hillery said, “Every class is larger than before. This is the largest ninth grade class”.
Containing and controlling the crowd of about 1,000 students on their walk along a busy road to the King Street Campus is unrealistic and dangerous. With the population of freshmen growing each year, the tradition of walking to the pep rally will have to end, said Hillery.
Even without including the freshman in the pep rally, the gym would still be crowded. Along with the students that watch the pep rally, staff members also need to be there to supervise the event. With the large amount of students from the King Street Campus combined with the staff needed to control the event, a pep rally is no longer possible due to safety policies.
In order to fix this issue, pep rallies are going to start taking place after school. “I think this is a win-win because then those who want to be there can be there,” Hillery said, “In January, the basketball game is going to be an after school pep rally and it will be a 2-hour event.” The winter student versus staff basketball game will take place on Thursday, January 25 from 7 to 9 PM.
Holding pep rallies after school allows students to have more of a choice about whether they want to attend them. Students who are not interested in attending pep rallies do not have to attend, which will lower the number of students in attendance and make the pep rallies safer.
In the future, this will continue to be an issue as the class sizes continue to grow. With pep rallies and other school events now being affected, the issues of the growing population in Alexandria only become more apparent.