Teachers and Administration Confront the Mystery of the Missing Tiles

Patches of discolored flooring have cropped up around the school as the original tiles continue to disappear. After the incidents of vandalism in the boys bathrooms, students and staff are left wondering about the cause of the missing tiles and are concerned about the aesthetic and safety of the school. 

Principal Scott Hoffman acknowledged these problems, saying, “It is not only an aesthetic issue because it looks awful, but becomes a safety issue as people can slip on the loose tiles.”

Health teacher Katelyn Russell also described the floor situation as looking terrible. She believes that this environment negatively impacts student behavior. “If you have your environment set up in a way that makes you successful, you’re more apt to do the things that you’re supposed to do,” she said.  

As for the culprit of this phenomenon, Hoffman said there may not be one. Instead, the real problem may have to do with the tiles’ weakening adhesive, particularly after the humidity over the summer.

Russell believes students are still at fault. “I don’t think that it was natural,” she said, “I think that [the tiles] are probably loose in general and that people help them.”

To solve this problem, Russell taped sheets of colorful construction paper to the bare flooring in front of her classroom with positive messages such as “I’m so glad you’re here” written on them. Russell said the idea came to her after an off-day of classes. She hoped the messages would change the energy and mindset of students. “I don’t know if it’s working or not,” she said. “I’m surprised that it’s still there.”

As a more permanent solution, the issue has been addressed by Patrick Harrigan, the Harvard Public Schools Facilities Director, whose staff has started replacing the tiles on weekends. Extensive work has since been done in the hallways by Mr. Lynde’s room and Mr. Murphy’s room (290-295, 190-195), the front hall, and the middle school wing.

That being said, this is only a temporary fix. Hoffman said there is money in the capital budget reserved for work this summer, but “it will be a matter of how far the money can go.” 

The administration has begun the search for a new type of tile and will be visiting other schools to examine its durability. They plan to begin a complete renovation of the floors over the course of the next few years.