The Common Room: A Compromise on Room Division and Noise Levels


Over the 2019 summer, the DP lounge underwent a big transformation into the HS Common Room.

“We had available space – when we passed the masterplan, we decided to keep [the old canteen] up, as you know, we added a few middle school classes, and another staff lounge, but we reserved this extra space,” said Misty Shipley, UNIS Director of Finance and Operations. “We spent some time thinking about what would be the best use of that space.” More classrooms were needed and the DP lounge had been converted into a classroom as it was intended for and changed location to below the library, where the old canteen was. The big change of this space is not only the change in location but also the change in the audience.

“[DP lounge] was more of a lounge and we wanted it to be more of a commons area so that it is more multipurpose and is inclusive of all high school students,” Shipley said. “One, the space is large enough – before it wasn’t large enough space to hold everyone, but we wanted a space that is inclusive and that all high school kids could go and have for their own. When we started talking about making the shift, the senior leadership team agreed that it needed to be for all students.” Originally, the senior leadership was going to make the medium room only available for DP students but decided to let the high school students figure out the use of space.

“I like that I can come here at any time of the day and get my work done and socialize,” Grade 10 student Nothando Legkgoro said. “The library closes at a specific time, but the Common Room is always open.”

Early in the school year, some conflicts arose among students about the space division between DP and MYP students.

“Us DP students want a quiet space to work since we are packed with just assessments. We don’t want to be interrupted, or at least I don’t. From day one, you can already tell that the medium-sized back room is “declared” to be a DP space and I think that it should stay that way. I can’t speak for everyone, but I just want that space to be a DP zone where only DP students can study with each other without the interruption and loudness of everyone else,” Grade 12 student Chinh Mai said.

“We had issues with overpopulation within the room as well as complaints from the student body saying that there were no specific places for quiet study so they couldn’t get their work done because of the noise levels as well,” said Senator Tiise Maema. Hearing concerns from the student body, the HS Senate sent out a survey to high school students on space division and use of space of the small room, medium room, and large room.

The Senate made a norm for the Common Room that includes room division and noise levels. The small room can be reserved for group presentations otherwise should be a quiet study space. All HS students can be in the large room but the consensus is that the medium room is a DP space. The rooms are also open for socialising, however, the noise level should be respectful of other students.