Chairs – what’s up with that?

They break quite often, but we are stuck with them

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If you’re a freshman or sophomore, chances are the chair you sit in every day is older than you. 

De Pere High School purchased most of its chairs around 2006, and the manufacturer (KI) has since discontinued the stiff, unforgiving model that can be found in most classrooms. Apart from the business wing, LA/SS labs, and science rooms, just about every classroom is filled with these chairs.

Apparently, many DPHS students feel that it’s time for the school to make a furniture change. A recent Crimson Aviator survey revealed that about 69 percent of students would call the chairs “unsatisfactory”.

Most students have two main issues when it comes to classroom chairs. Almost 85% said that they are too hard or cause pain to their backside.

“They suck. They’re very uncomfortable,” said senior Annika Zastrow. “They don’t bend and there’s no flexion. It feels like you’re sitting on a brick basically. They hurt my back too.”

Several others had similar complaints.

I’d honestly say [a solution is] to get new chairs,” said senior Ethan Reyes. “These chairs are flimsy, lightweight, and uncomfortable in general.”

Another problem with the chairs is that they appear to be too fragile.

Mr. Roup, who has been teaching English at DPHS since 1999, had some interesting insight on how the chairs have held up over the years.

“I was excited to get them,” he said. “They looked kind of new, modern, and exciting. Over the years, however, the vast majority of the ones I’ve had in my room have broken. Mostly the seats cracking or the metal pinching students. The overall plastic parts of the chair are constantly needing replacement.”

Mr. McGill, who has been teaching math for a little over a year and a half now, said that he has recently experienced his first chair “incident”. 

“I had one break the other day,” he said. “Back snapped right off. The student just leaned back.”

Custodian Benjamin Zimmerman, the man who is responsible for fixing broken chairs, has experienced this first hand. He said he has to fix about ten chairs a week – that’s around 360 in just one school year. 

“They used to be really bad (fragile), but now they put a brace underneath them to compound them and give you a little more structure…I still don’t think it’s the best design,” he said.

Fixing a broken chair can cost anywhere from $52 for a broken seat, $65 for a broken back, to a whopping $122 for a full chair replacement, Zimmerman said. 

Although it costs a lot to replace chairs every week, it doesn’t seem like much of an expense compared to the cost of replacing all of the chairs in the school. According to Zimmerman’s unofficial calculations, it would cost around $250,000 to replace only the chairs at DPHS–not including the desks.

Most students who were in favor of replacing the chairs changed their tune when they learned how much it may cost. 

Reyes was taken aback. 

“$250,000? I mean, it’s kind of hard to say,” he said. “The comfort of the students should be important, but at the same time I feel that money could go to different departments to help out with funding.”

However, junior Grant Smits felt differently. 

“I would say it’s a pretty good price–maybe a little expensive, but good chairs aren’t cheap,” he said.

Six-foot eight sophomore Will Hornseth thought that, instead of chairs, money should be invested in desks that are more comfortable for taller students. 

“Maybe better desks for kids that are taller than 6’4 because my knees don’t fit under the desks,” he said. 

In the meantime, McGill doesn’t feel bad for the students who complain about the chairs.

 “These are better chairs than I had in high school, so I can’t feel bad for the students,” he said. “Sorry you guys.”