Students Respond to the Debut of New Furniture in GHS Student Center

By Sahar Shakib, GHS class of 2024

Over the course of the 53 years since the opening of Greenwich High School’s Hillside Road campus, the school’s main hub and cafeteria known as the Student Center has undergone various furniture revamps.

For example, in around 1970, students gathered at picnic tables to eat, chat, and do last-minute homework.

GHS student center in the 1970s. Photo: Compass Yearbook

During COVID times, the Student Center also looked dramatically different, complete with socially distanced desks which discouraged socialization.

GHS student center early in the pandemic with rows of desks for students to eat. September 2020 Photo: Benjamin Shi

In more recent years, however, the Student Center featured assortments of round and rectangular tables, making it look like a fairly traditional school cafeteria.

Though most students found themselves complaining about a chair shortage, they were generally content with that layout. 

Photo Credit Ryan Podber June 2022

However, everything changed just a week or so ago when GHS principal Ralph Mayo announced that at the start of the 2023-24 school year, the Student Center would have completely new furniture.

In an email to incoming 10th-12th graders, Mayo said, “New furniture for our student center has arrived and has been installed. We are excited by this innovative addition to our school and to preserve the integrity of the design, please do not move the furniture around. I am also asking all of you to clean your tables and recycle properly when school opens in September.”

It seems that a key goal of the GHS administration with this remodel was to encourage proper disposal of lunchroom trash.

As for the students, they were very curious about the remodel and had high hopes for what the new Student Center would look like. Despite this, many of them were sorely disappointed upon returning to school from summer break.

Photo: @ghs24seniors on Instagram

This $500k remodel features a variety of smaller tables, chairs, booths, and couches, which certainly makes it look less lunchroom-like. However, many students feel it was a waste of money and will make the aforementioned chair shortage even worse. 

Photo: @ghs24seniors on Instagram

GHS Senior Audrey Lin shared her thoughts on the new furniture: “The furniture itself isn’t bad, but it was crazy to hear that the school spent half a million on it. The old layout had more seats, and the new tables seem smaller, which is not ideal. I think the money should’ve been spent on other issues, especially the spotty WiFi.”

Photo: @ghs24seniors on Instagram

“I don’t think the furniture was a great investment because it looks a little all over the place and it feels like there’s even less seats now. Plus, all the fabric-covered chairs are gonna get dirty by the second day of school,” sophomore Miyu Ito said. “I can already imagine the mystery stains,” she joked.

Photo: @ghs24seniors on Instagram

Students took to Instagram to share their feedback on the new furniture, none of it positive. One student commented that the look was, “Montessori school meets cafeteria.”

Another commented simply, “Nuh uh.”

As a whole, most students are very unsatisfied with the new furniture and wish it had been kept the same as years before. However, it might just be that the remodel will take some time to get used to. Only time will tell.