Many of the students attending CHS have never even heard of the third floor, much less know what it’s used for. Bill Swacker, a member of the maintenance team at CHS, offered to provide a tour of the floor.
There are two ways up to the cryptic floor. One is the stairwell, and the other, less tiring option is the elevator. However, the staff advise against using the elevator to sneak a peek of the floor. The only way back down from the elevator is a button, protected by a keyhole that can be opened by designated staff members.
“I think it would have been smarter to install the key lock in the elevator, so you can’t get up in the first place,” Swacker said, “but it’s cheaper, I guess.”
The function of the third floor is fairly simple: Heating, cooling, ventilation, and storage. The floor is off-limits for students due to the amount of heavy equipment present. Student injury and equipment damage are both unpleasant outcomes of having students fooling around in the cramped, dusty space. Swacker points out the pipes spreading out on the ceiling, boilers, and air conditioning units, saying it’s “stuff you don’t wanna mess with.”
Swacker and I rode the short distance from the ground floor to the small balcony overlooking the main commons. He unlocked the door and we walked through a hallway sporting a low ceiling.
Looking around the space, the most prominent feature is the massive pipes labeled ‘chilled water supply’ running along the ceiling and around the room. Swacker points out the ventilation and air conditioning units. Each classroom has its own ventilation unit: he explains most of the floor’s space is taken up by boilers, air compressors, and boxes of extra parts and replacements.
“With some units, you gotta be somewhat of a contortionist,.” Swacker said. Several rows of units and their monitors or control pads are impossible to reach because of the lack of walkway between.
He mentions that the floor was built first, and equipment was later added. , though arranged in such a way that makes some machinery impossible to get to.
However difficult maintenance may be, Swacker says he doesn’t find himself up on the third floor often. Instead, the job goes to a different employee.
I asked Swacker about how he felt about the third floor, and more specifically, the occasional student’s interest in it. “Every couple of years someone comes asking about the third floor,” he said, “I don’t really think of it as like, “what’s up there?” [because] for me, it’s very matter-of-fact.”