From the muddy ramps to no air conditioning, Riverside students know the trailers all too well.
When Riverside first opened in 1991, it was only for ninth, tenth and eleventh graders; but when it added a senior class the following year, overpopulation quickly became an issue.
“Our first year we had plenty of room,” said science teacher Jeffery Harris, who has taught at Riverside since the school opened. “Very quickly, Riverside became the place to be. And it was overcrowded,”
To create more space, the school added trailers to both sides of the building.
“I would say the trailers started to arrive probably in the late 90s,” Harris said.
The extra classrooms made it possible for hundreds of additional students to attend Riverside, but it also created new challenges.
Safety is the utmost concern for teachers across the school campus. French teacher, Koussaila Boumeridja has spent 7 of his teaching years in a trailer.
“It’s not safe,” Boumeridja said “If something were to happen from outside campus…we are more worried outside the school.”
For social studies teacher Anna Allman, teaching in a trailer can be a struggle. Her classes do not have access to the laptop cart, which makes planning online lessons complicated. She is also concerned about the accessibility of her trailer’s entrance. For instance, during rain and other bad weather, her ramp often gets muddy and slippery.
Allman attended Riverside as a student and remembers having classes in the trailers, as well. “I remember the room was always freezing, a pain to get to in the rain, and that it was awkwardly lit with no decorations,” she said.
On the other hand, some Riverside teachers enjoy their outside classroom set up. For social studies teacher and basketball coach Brain Strickland, his trailer is a help. “I personally love it,” Strickland said. “I think it kind of sometimes separates us from the busy hallway. We’re kind of in our own little world.”
Strickland also uses his trailer as a team meeting place and for study halls.
Boumerdja likes that he doesn’t have to worry about disturbing any nearby teachers or students.
“Sometimes it’s good here,” Boumeridja said, “because in my class we get loud sometimes- playing instruments and listening to music.”
“I really like that I don’t have to deal with noise/chaos/skippers of the hallway,” Allman said.
According to district enrollment data, Riverside is the third most populated school in Durham Public Schools. Therefore, love ’em or hate ’em, the trailers are here to stay.