Updated: Oct 29, 2021
-A Hollow Shell-
Eagle Rock High’s shuttered facade casts its shadow over the vacant parking lot. Gates are locked, pathways are silent, and windows are darkened. The school has not seen student activity in over half a year.
An eerie quiet hangs over the once bustling La Roda Avenue cul-de-sac, now devoid of its daily influx of vehicles and students. Before the pandemic, any available patch of sidewalk outside of Eagle Rock High School instantly became a hotspot for bumper-to-bumper traffic, hours before the first bell, and moments after the last. Now, only tire tracks mar the surface of the sun-baked asphalt, a faint memory of the location’s past.
Church bells ring out over the empty field, which in the absence of football games, track, and other high school sports, has begun to thrive, growing into a luscious green carpet, ringed by decaying sports equipment, chain-link fencing, and signs half-fallen from their posts.
It appears as if some student activity has occurred around ERHS during these long months, as several pairs of sneakers and a tagged T-shirt dangle from telephone wires around the campus perimeter. New graffiti has appeared as well, decorating the school’s outer walls adjacent to the office’s back doors. Written in black pen, the messages read “BLM” (Black Lives Matter), referencing the current social justice movement, and “[expletive] Trump.”
Not so much as a ripple disturbs the surface of the Yosemite Pool. The floodlights are off, and water polo cages sit folded against the fence, bleaching in the sun. A sign affixed to the gate warns of a $500 fine and/or 6 months in jail for entering the premises.
-On-Campus Activity During Quarantine-
Some teachers have chosen to return to their empty classrooms to conduct virtual instruction, as these spaces provide a reprieve from the clamor and spotty WiFi of a quarantined household. Pictured here are Ms. Waraniyagoda Gamage (left), teaching a mathematics class, and Ms. Lee (right), on a Zoom call with her history students.
School staff work under the bright fluorescent lighting of the main office, behind a protective glass barrier, faces covered, and socially distanced.
- Empty On the Inside -
The newly-remodeled auditorium is open and ready for business, but we don’t know how long its hundreds of seats will lie vacant.
The gate to the Horticulture Garden stands ajar, and while the bushes on the outside appear to be looked after, the inside is a tangle of un-raked paths and garden beds overflowing with weeds.
These English and Chemistry classrooms look as if their inhabitants have just left hastily for passing period, even though it has been months since students last walked through their doors.
It’s jarring to see the areas we once crowded reduced to ghosts of their former selves. The shadows are longer, and the corners are darker.
California buckwheat waves softly in the wind, overlooking the empty campus from the Townsend hill.