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The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

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Back to School: Robinson Is Restored…Basically

The almost two-year rebuild of Robinson has reached its final leg.
Photo Cecilia Cheng
Robinson High School will undergo construction until the end of November.

Since 1958, T.R. Robinson High School has graced South Tampa. A distinguished past and a historic legacy left behind for current students of the school, but that wasn’t the only thing left behind. Until recently, a majority of Robinson had not undergone major updates, leaving students dealing with old buildings and faulty air conditioning. 

In an attempt to solve the AC issue, school officials obtained consultation to install a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system. They then learned that the underlying problem was not the HVAC system, but the cracked and leaking windows, lack of insulation and a sinking building. Confronted with the information, the county approved a $57 million project from what was supposed to be a simple seven-million-dollar HVAC replacement. 

The rebuilding of Robinson was not a typical construction project for the parties involved, in large part due to the obstacle which continuing to educate students in a construction zone posed. 

“This project was different than other projects because it was a large redevelopment project,” said Lauren Campo, Engineer of Record for Campo Engineering. “We had to make sure the existing school could stay fully operational during construction.”

Almost all areas of the school have been outfitted with new HVAC systems, which will now be more effective due to the insulation and energy efficiency of the new buildings. Large black shades have also been attached to the outside of buildings to help cool the interior.

The new black shades on the second floor just outside the English building. (Photo Cecilia Cheng)

While cooling was a very general improvement, certain subjects received specific additions to their classrooms in order to improve their learning environment.

The art room, in addition to receiving new sinks, cabinets, a new kiln and lots of outdoor lighting, was also given an outdoor patio so that students can paint while having a grand view of the courtyard.

The journalism room has a large main area outfitted with a wall of windows and lined with new computers, couches and tables. The TV studio, located within the journalism room, will receive all new equipment for broadcast production as well.

The culinary room is still undergoing major construction. (Photo Cecilia Cheng)

What may be the largest upgrade, for any subject, is the new culinary-run restaurant. To replace their portable classroom and kitchen, culinary will have a full restaurant with a professional-grade kitchen as well as a front-of-the-house restaurant. The restaurant is available to all students and faculty and will be available for rent by the surrounding community for events.

This restaurant is seen by many culinary students, like Wilton Rollins (’24), as a natural progression from Knights Tavern, the mini-café run by Culinary.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the Knights Tavern has impacted the student body,” he said. “Even with the little store we had last year, people would come in and purchase snacks and drinks. The addition of new kitchen appliances will be used to create a wide variety of dishes that will certainly attract customers.”

While construction was mainly focused on the central area of the school and the main buildings, its impacts can be seen throughout the campus. Athletic programs will see many improvements in their facilities, the largest being to the football field and surrounding track. 

“The new track and field have definitely been the number one feature of the new school that I’ve been looking forward to,” said Rollins, who is also a wide receiver for the football team.

The field, which was formerly grass, has been replaced with turf and now has a branded Knights logo in the center of the field and both end zones. The track, formerly concrete, has been replaced with rubber. Additionally, there is a new long jump and shot put area, as well as a new practice field where the portables were formerly located. 

The new turf field adorned with the Knights logo and surrounded by the new rubber track. (Photo Cecilia Cheng)

“Having a rubber track means no more shin splints caused from running on concrete,” said Tamala Jerson (’24), girls head captain and a sprinter for track & field. “It also means that we’ll get to host more meets this year which is exciting.”

Outside of the track and field, the locker rooms and weight room have been completely renovated. The training room will have both, tables, in case of injury during a game, and a hot tub for muscle recovery. Two tennis courts and outdoor basketball hoops are also being installed adjacent to the stadium. 

Unfortunately, while most of the school will be complete by Aug. 10, the locker rooms, and sections of the auditorium, will not be finished until Aug. 30, and construction is set to continue throughout the first semester.

“Construction is probably going to continue through Thanksgiving, just like with any other type of building project, there’s going to be things that are going to need to be addressed as we go through the year,” said Principal David Brown in a voicemail sent out to parents on July 30. “But, all construction, starting on Aug. 10, will occur after school hours when students are not in the buildings.”

A new polymer stall door intended to curb graffiti. (Photo Cecilia Cheng)

With a new school, one of the largest concerns is graffiti, which has been prevalent across Robinson, and is especially seen in bathrooms. While there are no new plans to curb this issue, other than students reporting the crime, in the absence of the portables, there is now less ground for the administration to patrol, making it easier to catch vandals. Additionally, with renovations made to the bathroom, the textured polymer from which the stalls are constructed makes them more difficult to vandalize. 

“So, I do like this [the polymer],” Brown said. “It does hopefully help with graffiti, and it’s hard to write on.”

Even though the school has a more modern look, it still nods to its history. 

“There’s a big ‘Robinson High School’ concrete sign that was left by the class of ’89, and they’re [the construction company] going to have a place for that inside the courtyard,” Brown said. “And then there’s the senior seal that used to be there. Same thing. They’re going to have a place. So it’s going to remain.”

While students are excited for the brand-new, state-of-the-art facilities which the school now provides, what is most exciting, to many, is the prospect of having a larger and more diverse student population.

“Regarding the new school, I’m excited to see the interior and obviously the new field. It’s also a great opportunity to increase our school numbers and become more diverse,” Rollins said.

As a new school year approaches, and for Robinson, a new school as well, Brown thanks students for their patience and hopes that Knights will have pride in their new home. 

“Thank you for being patient, especially you juniors and seniors who have had a non normal experience because of all the construction.” Brown said. “Hopefully you’ll take great pride in this school because it is new, so you’ll take care of it like it’s your home. We want to keep it looking nice, we want to take care of it, we want to protect it.”


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About the Contributors
Vikram Sambasivan, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Vikram Sambasivan is a senior at Robinson and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Knight Writers. This is his third year on staff and his third year as an editor. A passionate storyteller, Sambasivan's writing varies across a variety of sections, but he finds his comfort most in news stories, where he delves mostly into current events. "My favorite is perhaps news writing. Some may say it’s plain, and a bit boring, but I find the simplicity to be elegant and a reprieve from the frilly writing that is sometimes preferred in a typical high school English class," Sambasivan said. Outside of the journalism room, you can see Sambasivan serving as the president of Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, rowing down the Hillsborough River for Team Tampa or even conducting research at the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida. Despite his demanding schedule, Sambasivan likes to wind down and relax by indulging in a number of movies or TV shows. "Rowing is probably tied with tennis as my favorite activity (although it’s not as fun to watch).  The feeling of the cool morning breeze on your face while rowing in the calm, quiet waters isn’t something I’ll soon forget," Sambasivan said. "Watching TV and movies are some of the other things I enjoy. My favorite show changes every day depending on how I’m feeling. Most movies that I watch speak to a different part of me, so I don’t think I could choose a favorite." Sambasivan has set multiple goals for this year's staff. He is looking forward to being in charge and being able to recreate the fun experience of journalism for new staff members. His biggest goal, though, is to be able to help everyone reach their greatest potential by making them stronger writers. "I would like to make them better than me. That’s the hallmark of a good teacher: having your students exceed you. If I can create an environment where people are excited to come in and produce content every day, where they are excited to learn, then I will be happy," Sambasivan added. Although his future is unclear at the moment, Sambasivan hopes to be able to combine his love for STEM and journalism in his future career. "I’m a little sad to be leaving high school. I’ll miss the friends and connections which I have made once I go to college, but this year, for me, is mainly about the future," Sambasivan said. (Profile by Cecilia Cheng)
Cecilia Cheng., Print Managing Editor
Cecilia Cheng is a senior at Robinson and the Print Managing Editor of Knight Writers. This is her third year on staff and her third year as an editor. A self-proclaimed "Swiftie," Cheng is constantly listening to some form of pop music, but her current favorites include Taylor Swift, Clairo and Pheobe Bridgers. When she's not listening to music, Cheng can be found taking photos, hanging out with friends, thrifting or catching up on her favorite TV shows. As of right now, her absolute favorite show is "Heartstopper," but it fluctuates frequently. This love of TV and movies is reflected in her large discography of reviews on the Knight Writers website and former position as the A&E editor for two years. Cheng makes it clear that A&E is her favorite section. Although she is a big fan of A&E, Cheng enjoys writing articles regardless of their section. "My favorite thing about journalism is the storytelling aspect of it," Cheng said. "I love how I’m able to express my opinion and give people that are underrepresented a voice as well." Outside of journalism, Cheng is involved in many other aspects of the Robinson community, holding positions as the Secretary of Women in STEM and the Social Media Manager of Mu Alpha Theta. Despite her connections to the school, Cheng is excited to graduate and see what awaits her. She hopes to head to her top college, Northeastern, where she plans to major in Biology. However, she isn't prepared to forget her time as a Knight Writer and plans to pursue her journalistic interests as well. "Right now, I’m looking to go to college and major in Biology, to go the pre-med track. I haven’t decided where I want to go yet, but I really hope I get into Northeastern. Also, if it’s possible, I want to double major in Journalism or I would join my college’s newspaper." (Profile by Charlotte Stone)
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