A view from the top of the world

Dec. 14, 2006, midnight | By Soraya Chanyasubkit | 17 years, 6 months ago

Blair's enormity has inspired many imaginative myths since the new building opened in 1998, many of which - big surprise - are false. Turns out, there is no Olympic-size swimming pool. There is no Subway in the cafeteria. There is no labyrinthine basement. The truth about one legend, however, will now be revealed: What is up with - or up in - Blair's steeple?

The steeple was born out of controversy. According to DesignShare.com, an organization that showcases school architecture, Woodmoor residents were worried that the new high school would overshadow the classical architecture of the Marvin Memorial United Methodist Church across the street. So SHW Group Inc., the architecture firm hired to build Blair, modeled its front entrance after the church's facade.

Okay, okay. So what's up there?

Beneath the steeple is a mechanical room, says building services worker and Plant Equipment Operator Reginald Tobin. It's against school rules to enter the room without permission, so it is locked at all times, according to Tobin. He refuses to reveal how often he goes up to the steeple, lest he finds a sneaky Blazer on his tail. Any student caught in the mechanical room will face suspension and possibly expulsion.

Those risks didn't deter one junior, who did not want her name used because she feared disciplinary consequences, from entering the mechanical room once. She found it unlocked one night at around 9 p.m. when she was staying late for stage crew. The room, located near the sound and lights room in the auditorium, has only machinery, panels and a ladder built into the wall - nothing too exciting. She went out on the roof instead of exploring the room any further.

She was not the first student to set foot in the steeple. In late November of 1998, a troupe of four InfoFlow students and Communication Arts Program teacher John Goldman sought a place to tape where nobody had been before in the new high school, and the steeple and the roof seemed the perfect choice. Using his "¬connections," Goldman gained access to the key. The machinery had not been installed then, so the steeple was empty.

It made for a great InfoFlow, but Goldman still regrets going up to the steeple, since an accident would not have been covered by the school's insurance. "It was a poor decision on my part," Goldman says, but then smiles. "It was fun to be there, just to say I had been up there."

The height of the spire

To most Blazers, the spire seems to be just another aesthetic addition, but to students in the Math, Science and Computer Science Magnet Program, it poses a unique challenge. As part of their Research and Experimentation class, Magnet freshmen build devices to measure the height of the spire. They test them by going to the student parking lot and measuring — usually in the cold weather of December. At the end of the project, the teacher, John Templin, promises to reveal the true height at the end of their senior year.

This year's freshmen have finished building the contraptions, and they have the splinters to show for it. They are ready to begin testing them. The project left junior Kevin Lewi with lasting emotional scars. When he hears a mention of the steeple, he automatically thinks of the icy cold, windy weather, his papers flying everywhere and gallons of hot chocolate staining the sidewalks.

For senior Alli Kator, the true height of the spire will finally be revealed this spring, and she can't wait. She used to joke with her friends about stealing the teacher's blueprint of the spire — once, former teacher Mark Curran even allowed a fellow classmate to hold it. "I really want to know!" she says.

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Soraya Chanyasubkit. Soraya Chanyasubkit loves her name, Thailand, penguins, eating, making fun of people and music. She is silly, mean, and friendly. (The last two qualities are in no way of being contradictory.) She most likely hates you. And will willing and loudly say so. More »

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