Windowless

Veronica Kuffel, Editor

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Over the years, students have asked one question: why are there no windows at TG? It’s weird to think that a school wouldn’t have natural light in its original design, but Totino-Grace is different than regular schools in Minnesota. There are only a handful of schools like it. St. Croix Lutheran in West Saint Paul, in fact, is an exact copy. But still—why the no windows? Part of the reason is to avoid distraction and a possible extra cost, but do these downplay the consequences?

Lack of sunlight during the day directly correlates to a variety of problems. Some include physical health issues, such as a Vitamin D deficiency. A lack of Vitamin D increases your chances of heart disease and destroys your immune system (sunsprite.com). In addition, it also takes an enormous toll on a person’s mental health. It’s been a difficult transition for students who went to schools with windows, especially for sophomore Melanie Sarmiento.

“It feels like living in a cave. I never know what the weather’s like and the light always seems fake. It feels depressing. I used to be able to look outside and see the birds and trees and life. It gave me peace, but now all I see are walls.”

Some students spend their entire day—morning to night—in the school because of activities and extracurriculars. Rosa Broadhead, another sophomore, gets to school around 7:30. On some days, she has choir from 2:20-3, and after that’s done, she goes straight to play practice, and then Company from 6-9. She wakes up in the dark and goes home in the dark, having little to no contact with the sun.

“It’s almost like being in a prison,” she comments. “You can’t tell if it’s sunny or storming or anything. If anything, I feel tired… I have no energy. And when I have energy, it’s usually because of stress.”

According to Mercola Articles, sunlight is the most important of 19 environmental factors for stress control. A lack of Vitamin D can also increase your risk for depression and other mental illnesses by as much as 85%. With these kinds of statistics, you wonder why the school remains windowless. However, there may be more to having no windows than meets the eye. Mrs. Larson, the clerk at the front desk of the Academic Office, offers a unique perspective.

“All I have is this window that looks out into the commons. I get to see the kids and get to see what you guys do. I love to hear and see how alive it is.”

Maybe no windows help students and staff focus on what’s going on inside Totino-Grace; not only with school work but with each other and the community. We are a tight-knit community here at TG, and we challenge our students to be the best they can be, and part of that might lie in the lack of outside distractions. We may be physically windowless, but mentally, our windows may be a little clearer than others.

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