Why the Wall?


Jaida Lewin

Wall surounding tree at the center of Riviera Prep School’s courtyard

It’s human nature to question everything. Look for answers to the things that don’t make sense, and in this case, wonder why something was created. At our school, many students question why a wall with no openings or stairs surrounds the tree. The controversial tree lies in the center of our courtyard, near the cube. It is encamped with seating, grounded with pebbles, and surrounded by a three-foot concrete wall. Therefore, you cannot just step over and enter the area. One must jump, leap, or climb over it to get in. Would individuals use the area more if there were openings or stairs on either side?

The wall was designed by Civica in 2009 and built in 2011. This same company designed our school’s courtyard, cube, and surrounding buildings.

When we posed this question to middle school students, they didn’t understand the purpose of the wall. They believed the area would benefit from said additions. Rafael Couto (grade 6) thought that the wall was there to “keep the rocks in” and that we should eliminate it. Others thought its only purpose was for additional seating. However, when we contacted Mr. Cohen, we finally understood the legitimate reason.

The tree, which the wall surrounds, has massive roots that, if not contained, will pick up the surrounding pavement. The wall keeps the roots in their designated area while allowing for extra seating.

With this reasoning, there is no way to cut out an opening, as the roots would spread through it. However, they could still add stairs going over the wall. Seemingly, the school debated this, but ultimately decided it was not worth the construction time and cost. Mr. Cohen believes students would not walk around the entire tree area to climb over the stairs but rather jump in, as they always have.

It has also come to our attention that the wall is not accessible to those with disabilities and different types of backpacks, but just like everything else mentioned, the school has already considered solutions for this problem. Benches were added throughout the courtyard. This allows individuals to enjoy the area without having to go through the trouble of getting over the wall. They can also sit on the exterior portion of the wall, enjoying the shade of the tree.

While the wall may be annoying to get over, it serves an important role in solidifying the integrity of the school courtyard.