Imagine walking across the Chaparral High School (CHS) campus when suddenly the wind picks up, blowing small stinging grains of sand into your exposed skin. These painful attacks are common experiences for Lobos at CHS. The parts of the CHS campus that are not covered by buildings are mostly covered by sand, which blows around in high desert winds and causes several issues for CHS and Lobo students and staff.
Students track sand (and mud when it rains) from their shoes into the building, contributing to gritty and sometimes dangerously slick school floors. This is not the only problem that the dirt presents. Aside from being painful, the blowing dust can cause several other conflicts, including sand piles building in unwanted places, such as the tennis and basketball courts, and aggravating some student’s allergies. Blowing dust can also get into fire alarms and set them off, causing disruption to classes.
Because sand presents all of these conflicts, CHS Principal Mark Rupcich has thought about covering the campus in desert landscaping. “It’s a beautiful campus and a beautiful building,” says Rupcich, “But it would be nice to have landscaping.” Landscaping would not only help the school look better, but it would also help hold down some of the dirt and prevent it from blowing in the wind.
Unfortunately, the school district does not have enough money to invest installing landscaping at CHS. The CHS campus is approximately 689,000 square feet in area and though most of this area is covered by Chaparral High School and the Pre-K, there is still a lot of land that would need to be covered which could cost the school and the school district more than 200,000 dollars.
Rupcich said, “Due to the fact that there is an extremely limited budget for the whole district, we will only be doing what is necessary.” Though covering the campus in landscaping would solve a few pesky problems, it is not considered a necessary action and therefore does not yet fit into the school’s budget.
There is another way that this gritty problem can be contained, however. Adding buildings to the campus will create wind blocks and help imprison the dirt. The school is planning on building a new gym in the empty lot south of the tennis courts which will cover a large section of sand that is currently grating Lobos. There are also plans to add new classrooms to the wings in the future. Both of these additions will reduce the amount of dirt on campus.
It is a fact that blowing sand irritates Lobos, and this problem will be addressed in the future one way or another.