By this time of year, over 28,000 students have anxiously torn open envelopes to unfurl the single sheet of paper that will dictate their future for the next four years. For 967 students, their mailing will contain a “Congratulations” for acceptance to Stuyvesant High School.
Though 967 may seem like a small number in comparison to the colossal pool of students the SHSAT filters, it is a significant number when put in context. The building was designed for 2,835 students, and the population at Stuyvesant is currently at 3,285. About 50 more letters were sent out this year than there were sent last year, and the school population “could easily break 3,300 by September,” Principal Stanley Teitel said.
The student population has been on the rise for years. The graduating class of 2009 had an enrollment of 781 students. The following year, it jumped to 816 students according to the DOE’s “School Comprehensive Educational Plan.” Perhaps the most extreme difference in student population was between the class of 2012 and 2013, which saw a jump from 868 students to 935 students.
The administration has no influence over the number of seats offered to incoming freshmen. This is decided entirely by the DOE.
“They’re [the DOE] aware that the school is already crowded, but the chancellor needs seats in good high schools,” Teitel said.
“We’re rated as the best, so they try to cram as many as possible.” Overcrowding has certainly become an established issue at Stuyvesant, and the school has already done much to accommodate the increasing class sizes, like building a new classroom behind the library, room 615E. The school also has plans to build another classroom over the summer. The “locker buddy” system was also started in 2008. Freshmen are required to share lockers because there are simply not enough to go around. Extra lockers were built for last year’s sophomores, but if this trend continues, the school may be forced to require sophomores to share lockers as well.
These efforts to accommodate the rising student population have done nothing to decrease the actual effects of having too many students in a school. One of the greatest concerns is crowding in the staircases, namely from the 6th to 8th floor on the West Staircase.
“It’s always really crowded, no matter what period,” junior Victoria Chen said. “It’s impossible to get through. I always get pushed back.”
“It’s a bottleneck effect on the stairs. I end up waiting and I’m always late to class,” senior David Zheng said.
Even Teitel has observed crowding in these areas as he makes his way to his classes. He attributes the traffic to the way the staircase is designed. It begins to crowd when it becomes one staircase, which is what occurs from floor six and up. How ever, once one gets down past the fifth floor, the staircase widens and doubles in area.
Aside from having less room to move throughout the school, an increasing number of students add to the competitive nature of classes. Having more students makes getting into certain courses or doing well in classes much more challenging.
“It kind of worries me that I won’t be able to get into certain electives next year simply because there aren’t enough classes for the number of students applying,” sophomore Isabelle Lim said.
“It’s already competitive enough,” Zheng said.
But despite the steadily in creasing number of students ad-mitted each year, there are still some who see no change in the Stuyvesant environment. Librarian DeLisa Brown has worked at Stuyvesant since 2007, and having observed the library for the past five years, she said, “It’s always been crowded.”
“It scares me that some of the freshmen don’t think that Stuy is crowded at all. They think it’s perfectly normal to be rammed next to each other on the escalators or to be stuck in a crush of students at the sound of the end bell,” junior Jenny Tran said.
Student population at Stuyvesant has almost become a moral dilemma. On one side, it is argued that accepting too many students will make the school a toxic environment, one that can- not be sustained for much longer. However, if most members of the Stuyvesant community don’t even notice the overcrowding, it’s hard to argue that things should be changed. As long as the school remains functional, many New Yorkers along with the DOE will insist that as many students as possible should be let into the one of few exceptional schools in the city.
Regardless of whether the school is accepting too many students or not, the bottom line is that “it definitely gives people more opportunity,” junior Adhithya Baskar said.