From Hopwood to Tarpwood


As an 8th grade student at Hopwood Middle School, I am here to voice my anger, frustration, and sorrow with how Hopwood is being neglected. Students are not being put first; Hopwood has become a last priority. Our school hours have been cut to seven hours with the addition of biweekly half-days on Friday. The insides of tents are impossible to clean, leaving us with an undesirable, dirty learning environment. The asphalt walkways become overly crowded and there are no shade unless you huddle up against a tent. I believe the “campus” is not suitable for teachers, students, and staff alike, whether in terms of physical, mental, or emotional health.

My day begins with waking up at 6am to arrive at my bus stop before seven. I ride the overcrowded bus and, depending on the time of arrival to school, I usually end up waiting outside in the heat before being let into class for breakfast. Teachers have had to make accommodations to the shorter class periods by implementing ways to save time. Transitioning from class to class after breaks has proved to be difficult because of how crowded they become, bumping into one another and the constant accidental shoving. In one instance, a student fell into a flooded ditch due to the crowd. Breaks become unbearably hot because there is nowhere to go other than under the burning sun unless students are able to escape into a classroom. After schools are even worse with the tsunami of students trying to make it to their mode of transportation. 

Those tents are not a place for students to learn nor is it a place for teachers to teach. That “campus” is not made to withstand the use of roughly around 1,000 students. It has already begun to break down. In the first days of school, we were told these tents would last at most a decade, but I think that would be the case if it were in a place that weren’t rat-infested, dusty, and windy to the degree that it is now. With no shade outside of classes, the extreme temperature changes of the heat outside and cold inside is really unhealthy for the body. In these cases, students are more prone to getting sick or passing out, the former of which is what I have experienced multiple times since being relocated to Kobler. I can only speak for myself as a student and for other students, but I like to believe that teachers, being humans, share similar experiences.

Also, this campus cannot adapt to those with disabilities or students with special needs, forcing them to attend other schools as there are no ramps, etc. And when the tents can no longer be used, what will they do with us then? The administrators don’t have a plan of action for us (or at least to my knowledge), so teachers have to take matters into their own hands. And I do to. I will not let them throw us aside. We don’t want your empty words; we want to see things being done. I want them to do something now because I am tired of them pushing us aside or at least come together to work hard and start creating a solution. It’s time to stop putting the government and their “wants” first, but our students and their needs. At least I like to believe it when our role models say that “we” the students are “the future of the CNMI.”

Emma Chong
Garapan, Saipan

Contributing Author

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