The Dark Side

More sunshine at EHS could make a drastic difference in student life

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The Dark Side

Madi VanWyngarden, Reporter

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It’s a beautiful sunny day. You actually enjoy the walk through the parking lot for once. Birds are chirping, the sky is blue, and it’s finally warm. Then you walk through the doors of Elkhorn High School. The sunshine is replaced by harsh fluorescent lighting and your classrooms are dark and dreary. Natural lighting is a rare commodity here at EHS, and something needs to change.

I have windows in exactly three of my seven classes. So, for over four hours of the day, I am never able to look outside, and teachers in windowless classrooms receive no sunlight at all. The benefits of sunlight on health and student performance are astounding. Please Elkhorn, can we have a few more windows?

Sunlight is the primary source of Vitamin D in the body and is necessary for health and happiness. In fact, our entire body processes on cycles of sunlight and darkness, known as circadian rhythm. As a result, a lack of sunlight can place people in a state of temporary lethargy. In other words, depriving students of the light that tells our bodies to wake up will only increase the number of people napping in my first hour.

Additionally, exposure to sunlight can literally make you happier. One of our body’s natural anti-depressants, serotonin, increases with sunlight. This release of serotonin could help students relieve stress and relax while attempting to learn. Sunlight deprivation, on the other hand, can actually lead to seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression common in winter.

Studies even show that students in a classroom with natural lighting perform up to 25% higher on standardized tests. Windows with green views are also shown to relieve stress and help increase student focus. While windows could be seen as a distraction for students, they may accomplish more than we give them credit for. When students have to focus on a task, such as taking notes, it can cause mental fatigue. However, if a student is able to look out a window, which requires no mental effort; it provides a chance for the brain to rest and relieve some of the mental fatigue.

I understand that windows aren’t always a possibility. However, some of our current windows are inexcusably small. I mean have you seen the tiny slivers of glass in the math wing?  All I ask is that EHS grant us the luxury of natural lighting whenever possible. More skylights could even be implemented for rooms that don’t face outside. Classrooms shouldn’t feel like prison cells, instead, we should make our learning spaces as inviting and welcoming as possible. If something as simple as a few more windows could make students happier, healthier, and smarter, then what are we waiting for?  

This article was featured in the March edition of the Antler Express