Braving the boulevard

March 10, 2011, 11:43 a.m. | By Eli Okun, Natalie Rutsch | 13 years, 3 months ago

T-5 minutes. You leap from a moving vehicle, slam the door shut and join the herd making its way toward the entrance. Once inside, you confront a new set of obstacles: From the slick floors to the confusing maze of halls, the journey promises to be difficult. But before you reach your destination, a chime overhead seals your fate. It's 7:25 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, and another day at Montgomery Blair High School has begun.

Our beloved high school isn't exactly the war zone we sometimes make it out to be. We're in a relatively new building, still holding onto some of MoCo's dwindling funds and taken care of by a dedicated building service staff. Regardless, whether it's braving the parking lot, navigating the halls or surviving the classrooms, the massive student population can still make Blair tricky to navigate. And as seniors, we think it's about time we learn how to traverse our hefty high school without getting our spirits, or toes, crushed. If you're overwhelmed on Blair Boulevard, try following our simple rules. You'll not only make it to school on time, you'll excel in classroom etiquette and maybe even ace the classes themselves (don't hold us accountable on that last one).

Arrival of the fittest

Whether you drive, ride, walk, bike or unicycle to school, you've certainly experienced traffic. For many Blazers, the trip to school turns treacherous at the dreaded University-Colesville light. If waiting for the crosswalk signal or the green light on University is part of your daily routine, you understand the frustration this particularly congested intersection presents.

Next time, instead of throwing up your hands up and accepting a tardy, plan ahead. The night before a daunting school day, set your watch forward five minutes. Panicked in the parking lot at what appears to be 7:25? Breathe easy, it's only 7:20. Alternately, invest in a jet pack, take up residence in a classroom or bribe the county to fix the traffic lights in your favor - short of any of that, traffic is pretty unavoidable.

Even if you manage to survive the clogged roads surrounding Blair, the parking lot itself is a challenge. Students flood in from every direction, narrowly avoiding the crowding cars. Students on buses luck out; the separate bus entrance saves students a long wait in the line of cars entering the lot. For student drivers and parents, the parking lot is a whole other story. The line of cars inches slowly into the parking lot, seeming to slow exponentially the closer it gets to the fateful hour of 7:25. Parents stop wherever they can to drop off their Blazers, and sleep-deprived students with new licenses pull haphazardly into their spots. The situation is dire.

The best way to escape the parking pandemonium is to avoid the lot altogether. Get your adrenaline pumping in the morning with a sprightly leap from the car onto the University sidewalk (kidding, kind of). If you're a student driver, and can't avoid the lot, try to score a spot near the entrance. If all else fails, you can always wake up a few minutes earlier and avoid the crowd completely. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Hazardous hallways

Once you're in the building, the halls can present a whole different set of problems. From the irritating couples clogging up the walkways to the unexpected overturned Cup O'Noodles, Blazers must struggle through many obstacles during the short six minutes they have to hurry between classes.

Often, the collision of two moving targets can really derail a hallway experience. Such disasters are usually small, with the girl who walks into you because her eyes and thumbs are glued to her cell phone screen. But they can become dangerous, too, especially after the warning bell sounds. We've all known the pure terror of watching somebody barrel down the hall to class, overstuffed backpack swinging wildly. It's like an ambulance without the emergency.

To avoid real emergency, our tip is to maintain constant vigilance and be quick on your feet. Be two steps ahead (sometimes literally) of the Blazer hurtling towards you and ready to dodge when necessary. Consider investing in Dance Dance Revolution or another video game that trains you in speed and agility - it could be your only savior from a full-on collision.

Even DDR won't protect you, however, from a strange but strangely common phenomenon: indoor rain. It's not drops of liquid precipitation but rather the cascade of items from the second and third floors that fall and splatter down on the heads of unsuspecting Blair Boulevard walkers. It can range from the silly (a senior-prank downpour of bouncy balls) to the messy (a Gatorade waterfall), but it's always more fun for thrower than thrown-upon. Seriously, stop tossing food at us.

There's an easy way to keep a clean head, though. Just take the back hallways! We know that Blair Boulevard, with its stately curves and broad swatches of faux-Christmas red and green, holds a certain allure, but there's a myriad of smaller, humbler halls that would be happy to have you. Best of all, they run in a zigzag nearly parallel to the big guy, so inter-class navigation is just as easy.

Classroom calamities

You might think that the dangers end at the classroom door. You'd be terribly wrong. Once again, watch out for unexpected horrors from above. Leaks in the ceiling might drip water onto your desk, which isn't so bad, until you start to realize that the second-floor boys' bathroom is directly overhead. A more common problem than mysterious drips is temperature. With heat in summer and air conditioning in winter, classrooms can feel like all seasons regardless of the month. Try dressing in at least four layers, because you never know when going from English to Algebra will feel like traveling from the Sahara to the Antarctic.

Even if overheated classrooms aren't causing you to break a sweat, your classmates might. In particular, we're thinking of that moment five minutes before the bell when the question on everybody's lips is whether the teacher will remember to collect the homework. Word to the wise: Don't be that guy.

To avoid an equally detrimental classroom faux pas, keep in mind that leg-room is very serious business. Even if you have longer legs than Blair's new buddy Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it's no justification for them to be under your neighbor's chair, infringing on her precious leg space. Similarly, don't let your excess of school supplies spill onto surrounding desks. If you really need that much stuff, it's probably best to find a seat alone. Or, like the rest of the recession-stricken country, you can downsize (your belongings or your legs, we don't care which).

The official school rule is no eating in classrooms. Our rule? No eating food that looks so delicious we won't be able to distinguish the periodic table from the square root of pi. On a similar note, please stop inviting us to eavesdrop on hushed conversations that are infinitely more interesting than whatever we're learning in history. Or at least speak up!

So, whether you're honking at slow parents, dodging couples in the hallway or feeling envious of classroom snacks, heed these tips for a safer and more enjoyable school day. In all honesty, we almost always find Blair a fun, safe place to learn. But one final request: Could the administration please just finish the Big Ben chime?

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