Teachers reflect on their time in the current building compared to moving into the new one

By Molly Mitchell, ‘20 and Josie Stewart, ‘21

Chemistry teacher Philip Lampe has taught at UAHS for 36 years and plans on spending a few more in the new school. He split his time for all 36 rooms between his two Honors Chemistry classes but is now facing a change of scenery with an entirely new building.

“Sure, I’ll [miss the current building], but I really will not miss the green tile. This building has basically gas station decor,” Lampe said.

He reflects on the sentimentality of seeing generations of students come through his classrooms and losing the room where he taught his first class ever, but also looks forward to making those memories in the new building. 

“I am excited to see a change in venue,” Lampe said. “I was just thinking coming in that, when I first started teaching I was primarily in [room] 140 and we actually used to have a student smoking section. One day, a kid flipped his cigarette in through the window and they decided that wasn’t a good idea [for the section] to be by a room with combustible things. They then asked [me], “would you like to serve on a committee for relocating the student smoking area?” Looking at it, 36 years ago, I was like ‘okay’ because I just wanted it out of my classroom area for safety reasons. We toured all the grounds and I can’t even remember where we decided to put it.”

Photography teacher Scott Wittenburg also shares this degree of sentiment after his 22 years in the building, but also thinks he will enjoy the new building. 

“So many things have happened [in my classroom] because it is an art and it’s a very dynamic room. We have photoshoots in here, we have kids developing film in the dark room, there’s just so much going on and so all the things that have emanated from that will also be in my brain,” Whittenberg said. “I’ll look at all of it fondly. I’ve loved teaching here and so but I guess sometimes you got to wring out the old and bring in the new.”

Math teacher Daniel Rohrs has been teaching in the current building since the 1984-1985 school year. He has noticed a change in the culture of the high school as the nation and the world pass through similar cultural shifts. 

“There are a lot more people who discuss things in class that we would never have thought about discussing in front of an adult of any sort [when I started],” He said. 

Although the teachers are excited for the new environment, they recognize the adjustments for them as well.

“Apparently I’ll be teaching on the third floor so I’ll probably be more aerobically fit instead of just strolling in the doors and plopping right [at my desk],” Lampe said. “I think it will be good for me health-wise.”

Wittenburg agrees because the art departments classes will be split amongst the three floors and his dark room for students will be smaller than it is in the current building. 

“I think we’re all going to be thrown in a whole new environment with different places to go and getting used to where to go,” he said. “It’s going to be like starting over and adjusting to a lot of the different ways they’re going to do things—like lunches and everything.”

Lampe on the other hand will not miss his beat up classroom and broken drawers that he has experienced over the years. 

“[The new school] sounds very exciting and very lovely and I can’t wait to get there,” he said. “I guess I just feel sorry for the maintenance people who have to scrub people’s fingerprints off of the glass all the time.”