Youngbean Kim, ‘18 , Goeun Han, ‘19
“How the heck do we operate this?,” Students seethed while trying to figure out how to operate the cutting-edge equipment that had been recently brought into our humble classrooms: the Sony PSS-645 wall mount projector. The new projectors have rendered the previous hang-down canvas screen use-less and instead enabled teachers to write directly on the board along with the projections. Some were satisfied, while others expressed their frustrations. But everyone wondered: why did they change the old one?
Aside from the projectors, classrooms also saw new whiteboards, desktop computers and LED monitors. The dorm walls received a fresh coat of paint. And three broad parasols arrived in World Plaza. In Harbinger’s desperate search for an answer to the fundamental Why? we asked the head teacher in Facilities Management in February about the changes, only to be told with a smile that we should ask homeroom teachers. Similar events followed with each teacher pointing to another teacher with a smile.
Though no answer emerged from the offices and teachers, estimating some of the costs for the new equipment proved possible. According to a document on the HAFS site reporting the 2017 school expenses, 30 million won was set aside for the painting of the dorms, while a total of 114 million won was used on the computers (74 million for borrowing 281 computers for 12 months and 40 million for buying 208 LG LED monitors). Other specific costs were unavailable in the HAFS document, but according to Sony’s web-site a wall mount projector costs approximately 2 million won (there are at least 22 in this school) and the manufacturer’s site for the parasols (www.sunchail.com) states that they cost 1.9 million won each.
Why did the school change so many things in one year, and where did the money come from? HAFS Harbinger decided to consult the man who would surely have the answers to our questions: Principal Kim SongKi.
On February 28, after a few simple procedures, including requesting a meeting via the Administration Office, we finally entered the mysterious and hal-lowed chamber (aka the Principal’s Office) unfrequented by students. As dramatic as everything sounds, the interview itself went quite smoothly and casually as Mr.Kim told us much about the new facilities along with a few tips for students.
According to the principal, it was about time that the school received renovations and updates, a decade having passed since it was built (HAFS celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2015). As for the electronic facilities, the Toshiba projectors and computers the school installed a decade ago are now unable to get repairs because of the lack of parts due to their being such old models. Aside from the aforementioned projectors, parasols and boards, some lights have been installed near the pond that aren’t too bright (“For too much [light] can disturb the sleeping fish,” Mr.Kim explained, to our amusement). There were more plans for installation of a public telephone on the 4th floor of P Hall and glass doors at the gymnasium. Regarding expenses, the principal replied that Chairman Moon Jaewon of our school’s foundation, moved by the 2016 HAFS graduation ceremony, provided the development fund for the changes.
“The higher fences and the security cameras, especially near the field, were mostly to protect the students since it is possible for someone to enter from outside.
Unfortunately, it seems as though more student couples and food deliveries are caught in our radar…” Mr.Kim told us with a smirk as we recalled the recent General Assembly in which Mr. Song Ki Taek from Student Affairs scolded the students over the numbers of school rule violations caught by the ADT. Two most unkept rules of the “Five Major Bans of HAFS” are delivery food (or food brought from outside) and dating. Students frequently received delivery food (discreetly, of course) over the fence behind the garbage disposal at the corner of the field. This age-old practice is now disappearing due to several CCTVs (and a bright lamp) set up right next to the disposal, along with the tighter level of campus security brought by the ADT. More CCTVs set up around school caught several student couples enjoying walks near the “HAFS Love Road (the pathway be-hind the school building)” and at the hill leading to the dorms. According to the document on the HAFS website, it takes 48 million won per year to rent the CCTVs, dorm and school combined.
A few hopes the principal has concerning facilities would be more flowers. “We planted a few flowers last year, but it’s still not enough. The cherry blossoms and azaleas come and go in spring, and there’s not much left in summer. It would be great if we had a student gardening club that could help us out. Any-ways, we need more flowers and bushes.” He also asked students not to stick posters on walls all the time, and that more bulletin boards could be put up if necessary.
When asked about what he wants to tell the students, Mr. Kim had two things in mind: usage of smartphones and dating. “It’s way better to play with your friends in real life than to be on the phone — Sports, art, music; these are the productive pastimes,” he told us. “How good would it be if students could be well-balanced people who study hard and do those on the side?” He added that those things could help HAFS students reduce stress. “Students who can paint or play a musical instrument have a way to relieve some of their stress in an efficient way. I think HAFS gives students quite a bit of freedom and time com-pared to some other schools, so use that wisely.”
While we weren’t sure if students were given much “free time” at HAFS, we realized that the improved internet connection that all students yearn for goes directly against our principal’s vision. About dating, he simply stated, “I did some dating myself in college, and I agree it’s very fun. But dating in high school? Inefficient and I’m sure it’s not as fun as dating in college. Just wait patiently until you graduate. It’ll be much more fun that way, I assure you.”
We thanked Mr. Kim and left the office. While some of our questions have been answered, many questions still remain, not necessarily about the school facilities. And along with that will come more interviews in the future with more school officials and other students. Next stop: the ADT.