A SLICE OF SHALHEAVEN: Change is coming for the little school that could

By Hannah-Leeba Ellenhorn, Arts Editor

It’s period G and I’m sitting in Ms. Crincoli’s class drumming Beethoven’s 5th on my desktop, looking out the window toward the colorless parking lot. Something is missing and it irks me. The lot that used to be full of Shalhevet students talking, walking and bonding is now empty. I see an abundance of sedans and SUVs, but not a single Shalhevet student circling the rectangular space in search of the meaning of life.

Where did all of the students go? The traditional minhag of walking around the parking lot at every possible free moment is slowly dying out, and this isn’t something I can just let go. A practice so rich at the school just last year seems to have vanished in the span of a single semester.

Until now, everyone knew that if you went to the parking lot, usually with a friend and sometimes maybe even with a — you know — with a crush, you were bound to eavesdrop on some gossip, observe at least one fight, take mobile uploads with your besties and laugh loud enough to not hear the bell ring.  But now, the only thing traveling around the lot is a giant tumbleweed scurrying near the cars in the afternoon breeze.

This raises a longer-term concern. Is this just the beginning? With plans to start construction on the new building within an arm’s-length of time, will the traditions of “old Shalhevet” die out?  Thoughts like these plague me as I navigate the single hallway between fourth and fifth period.

Change is coming. What about Shalhevet’s other quirks that might get lost due to the legit-ness of its new building?  Our shabby little school was the lovable and underestimated underdog.  We had that “don’t judge a book by its cover” quality.  Now that Shalhevet will join the ranks of other chi-chi schools, we just might lose our edge.

Looking at it now, who would believe that our little school was home to an award-winning newspaper, an award-winning debate team, talented teachers, a gazillion sports teams, more AP classes than we have room in our schedules for and our very own band, choir, and theatre department?   We are the little school that could.

To make it through a day in our current, quaint building, we develop peasant-like hardiness.  Dr. Yoss and Mr. Feld teach in classrooms with climates like Siberia’s while Mrs. Sunshine and Ms. Segal enjoy sub-Saharan heat. I ask you: is a glam new campus worth losing that honed tolerance to harsh climates?

It’s an important question.

But my answer is yes. When the old Shalhevet it is gone, there will be new traditions that students will start. Who knows, maybe the rooftop will be the new place for gossip, eavesdropping and laugh attacks.

After all, our current building is still the “new Shalhevet” for alumni who went to school at Shalhevet’s old campus, across Olympic and down the street at the JCC.

Because walking around the parking lot is not what makes Shalhevet Shalhevet. What matters is what the students think about while on their walks. If the same thoughts that plague me, such as the questionable future of Shalhevet traditions, are akin to their thoughts, then we know that Shalhevet is, was, and always will be the same Shalhevet.