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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

Midtown to swap historic gym for parking garage

Lily Rachwalski
Due to the failure of earlier attendance initiatives, such as the raffling of trendy Stanley cups, Midtown has decided to fix the issue by building multiple-story parking deck.


In response to a noticeable decrease in attendance, Midtown has implemented a plan to replace the practice gym with a ten-story parking garage for students and staff.  

Although school administrators have been trying to manage attendance for years, the issue has become more prominent in recent months. From raffling Stanley cups to awarding ice cream to students with perfect attendance, the school has offered countless incentives to encourage students to arrive to school on time.

“We have tried absolutely everything, but students continue to show up late,” Superintendent Dr. Shelby Robinson said. “Stanley cups– we even did the Stanley cups. Who doesn’t want one of those things? I don’t understand, everybody knows that teenagers love Stanley cups. Those are popular right now aren’t they?”

Despite these incentives, Dr. Robinson said tardies and absences have reached an all-time high due to the lack of parking spaces around the school. 

“Students who are tardy in the morning have been saying ‘no parking’ as their excuse in the Google form,” Dr. Robinson said. “I don’t understand why they don’t use a different mode of transportation; a lot of students who can afford to have their own car in the first place live in Candler Park, so I’m sure they already have at least two bicycles at home.”

As a result of student and parent complaints about parking around Midtown, the school has decided to begin constructing a ten-story parking garage in place of the practice gym this summer. While some members of the community are resistant, Midtown resident Peter Chamberlain said he “wholeheartedly” supports the construction plan.

“Kids are always parking in front of my driveway in the morning, so it’s about time,” Chamberlain said. “Besides, when has someone in this neighborhood ever thought, ‘I don’t want the first thing I see in the morning to be a huge, brutalist concrete box?’” 

Despite the support this plan has received, many members of the community oppose the idea of demolishing the practice gym. Sophomore Alejandra Martinez said she is concerned about where the activities that were once held in the practice gym would take place after the parking garage is built.

“Without a practice gym, there will be nowhere for the girls’ sports teams to practice,” Martinez said. “Plus, I heard a rumor that homecoming next year will still be hosted in the parking deck because homecoming is always in the practice gym. They’ll probably just put up some streamers and hire DJ Tron; at least the acoustics will be good in there.”

The bathrooms that are currently attached to the practice gym are set to remain where they are once the parking garage is built for plumbing purposes. Because the practice gym is currently attached to the Black Box Theater, drama teacher Paul Hawthorne said he is concerned about students crossing the parking deck to go to the restroom. 

“Usually, teachers ask students to leave their phones when they go to the bathroom,” Hawthorne said. “Once this parking garage is built, I’ll have to ask students to leave their car keys with me so I know they won’t just drive off. I know it may seem extreme, but it’s theater, so maybe their anger will help them get into character.” 

Once Midtown students adapt to using the parking garage, Dr. Robinson said she hopes the school can find new ways to receive funding from it. 

“Maybe if we get to the point where we can’t afford any more Stanley cups, we could try putting up kiosks that charge students a small fee each time they park,” Dr. Robinson said. “If that receives criticism, we could just construct another parking garage that doesn’t charge a fee in place of the Vincent D. Murray Auditorium. Boom, everyone wins.”

As Midtown navigates its plan to construct the ten-story parking garage, staff members are hopeful about the anticipated impact it will have on attendance.

“This was probably the best thing we could have done to manage the issue,” Hawthorne said. “Surely, walking down nine stories of stairs every morning will be better for attendance than parking across the street at 8:42 AM and proceeding to blame your tardiness on the lack of available spaces.”

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About the Contributors
Meredith Bell
Meredith Bell, A&E Section Editor
Meredith is a junior and this is her third year writing for the Southerner. Outside of school, she runs Midtown's film discussion club, acts in theater productions, and participates in Midtown Votes as well as the Plantlanta composting club.
Lily Rachwalski
Lily Rachwalski, Website Managing Editor
Lily is a junior and is excited to start her third year with the Southerner. Apart from her writing with the Southerner, Lily is a Georgia Scholastic Press Association (GSPA) student ambassador, representing both the Southerner and Georgia journalism as a whole. She is an active member of Latin club and plays ultimate frisbee for both Midtown and cATLanta, Georgia's under-20 club team. In her free time, you can find her hanging out with friends and family.

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