An LHS tradition, extinguished by the Portland fire marshal

Students+brought+their+lawn+chairs+outside+after+the+chairs+were+banned+by+the+fire+marshal+Sept.+2.

Jamie Bikales

Students brought their lawn chairs outside after the chairs were banned by the fire marshal Sept. 2.

On the first day back at LHS, students pulled out their lawn chairs for lunch, as Lincoln students have for the past two decades. A new visitor walked the halls, looking for fire hazards and mistakes. Throughout the first week, a Portland fire marshal walked the halls with members of the Lincoln staff, including Principal Peyton Chapman.

On Sept. 2, lawn chairs were permanently banned from the school hallways because they were ruled as a hazard to the safety of students and staff members.

Chapman says, “I was not aware previously that the lawn chairs were a hazard.” But, she does agree that “when the doors were blocked off with caution tape due to the portable construction, the halls were not safe due to overcrowding and the inability for students to exit to the east in case of emergency.”

However, Chapman believes that she can work with the students to make sure the required 70-80 feet of unobstructed hallway is met on a daily basis.

Susan Snyder, history teacher, agrees with Chapman saying, “I never felt it was a hazard, just somewhat annoying given how crowded it is in junior hall.”

Many people, however, have asked what will happen once the weather gets cold and rainy. Chapman says, “We are working with PPS to help us address this issue. We know that we don’t have seats in the cafeteria for 1700 students. The only real option is to open the gym and put down the bleachers, but maintaining our only gym floors and providing a safe and clean space for PE classes and athletes is a top priority. We really don’t have a great answer if the fire marshal insists that students cannot sit against the lockers in their chairs.”

Chapman says that students eating on the floor in the hallways, one of the proposed solutions is “a potential health code violation. Hopefully the school district, school officials, city fire department and student leadership can work together to come up with a safe and suitable solution that both protects students and allows them to eat lunch and gather in small groups that support the social and emotional development of our youth.”

Snyder also says, “I really can’t object to the Fire Marshall’s ruling, however I do think there are probably other violations that are equally or more pressing that should be addressed.”

Sophomore Jessica Motley agrees with Snyder, saying “I feel there are so many other problems with the school that need to be addressed. The lawn chairs didn’t seem to be the highest priority in regards to fixing the hazards and health violations.”

Leaking ceilings, cracking floors, stained walls, and even kids eating on the floor are all issues that do not line up with health and safety protocol.  

Before the tradition started, Snyder says, “The shortage of space was way worse. Kids always ate in the hallway and they wanted to be more comfortable and frankly they didn’t feel great about eating their lunches on the hallway floors.”

The lawn chairs have always been a dream of incoming freshman and sophomores. Motley says, “I can’t wait to be able to eat in the lawn chairs. Sitting on the ground isn’t helping my back issues.”

Snyder also says it’s “Sort of a rite of passage. When you get to be a junior, you get to eat in your hallway in a lawn chair.”

Now, that right of passage has been closed down and may never return to the junior and senior hallways.

As of now, LHS staff and the PPS administration is working very hard to solve the issue and doesn’t want to force students to sit on the floor during lunch. Chapman says, “The current situation is unconscionable and I have always been proud of our students for finding innovative creative solutions. Hopefully that tradition can continue.”

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