The School Newspaper of Tomball High School

The Cougar Claw

The School Newspaper of Tomball High School

The Cougar Claw

Reader Survey

Atrium passes reward UIL competitors

Freshmen and sophomores may not remember a time when the two big glass-encased outdoor areas were packed full of students eating lunch. Well, they’re called atriums, and if that word seems foreign, it’s because until very recently, the two areas had remained vacant for nearly two years.

That all changed recently, when atrium passes were given to students who had participated in Academic UIL competition in mid-April. The pass is an “admit two” card, so the person with the pass can bring a friend.

“We wanted to do something to recognize these students for going the extra mile to represent their school,” said Academic UIL Coordinator Jerry Fordyce. “Being able to enjoy springtime weather out in the atrium is the least we could do for them.”

For some students, the pass is a great relief from the everyday school routine.

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“I’m so glad we actually get to go outside, it helps me calm down a bit if school is stressful,” said Alexis Aguilar, who competed in journalism at multiple UIL events.

But even with the perks of being able to escape the hallways for a breath of fresh air during lunch, there are still drawbacks to being one of the few students with an atrium pass.

“The pass is a key to something that used to be free for everyone to go to,” said Spencer Wingert, a recent UIL competitor.

“Since no one goes to the atrium, the pass is utterly useless.”

It is true that the number of students allowed in is slim, but that’s for good reason.

Two years ago, multiple fights occurred in the atrium, making it hard for APs to detain those involved since the area is enclosed and the entrances can quickly become blocked by students.

There were also serious problems with litter in the atriums; it wasn’t uncommon for the entire atrium to be filled with discarded bottles and trash after lunch.

While the academic team was open to all students, those who are not part of the academic team may harbor some resentment.

“Technically, it is fair since it was decided the passes were a reward for those who represent our school,” said top ten-percenter junior Karine Wilson.

“However, if they are limiting access because of behavioral issues, then the top ten percent should be able to use it,” he added, “as that category of students aren’t typically violent or disrespectful.”

There has been no decision on whether to expand the program next year, but for it to be successful, that might be necessary.

Sean McElvogue declined the pass offered to him as a UIL participant, for a simple reason:

“I didn’t want to go in the atrium because no one eats out there.”

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Atrium passes reward UIL competitors