Guest opinion: Eyes wide shut

Remember the monolith in the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey”? Stanley Kubrick uses it as a metaphor that tested the intellectual progress of the human race. Briefly, when discovered, those who placed it knew that humans were ready for their next evolutionary step.

In an ironic twist to this metaphor, a monolithic condition within the Sequim Middle School has been screaming to be discovered for more than 20 years.

After the passing of a “bricks and mortar” bond issue in 1998, the school was designed and built excluding student lockers. I’ve been told that this was done to remove hiding spots for drugs, alcohol and undefined contraband.

That decision forces students to carry large backpacks that are their burdens all day, every day, everywhere. Like dutiful dung beetles, they are condemned to bear the necessities of their education on their backs.

The rule of thumb on backpack weight is that the load should not exceed 10 percent of the bearer’s weight. Exceed that limit and you are risking lifelong orthopedic damage including stress fractures in the back, inflammation of growth cartilage, back and neck strain, and nerve damage in the neck and shoulders.

Since 1998, multiple school board directors, superintendents, principals, teachers, coaches, physicians, chiropractors and massage therapists — and let’s not forget passive parents — have chosen to ignore this issue. What does it take to comprehend that kids walking bent forward, shoulders rounded and heads raised, is evidence of a health hazard?

“The Volga Boatmen” would provide an appropriate musical accompaniment to kids leaving SMS at the end of their school day.

Yet, the problem has never seen an offered solution within any proposed school bond since 1998.

Sequim Middle School enrolls approximately 660 kids. Let’s say that one locker would cost $1,000 to buy and install, probably an overestimate, but let’s be generous. Compared to the bottom lines in previous bond issues, $660,000 is chump change for an improvement that would directly affect kids’ current health as well as their future well being.

There are those in Sequim who dispute the validity of evolution. I disagree. However, I must admit that there is evidence for this position within the decisions of the Sequim School District.

Greg Madsen is a Sequim resident and occasional guest columnist for the Sequim Gazette.