By Sanai Rashid
The multi-faceted personality of the seventh floor
People often say that it is “lonely at the top.” As you climb to the peak of your horizon, the friends around you trickle away until you are at the summit of Mount Everest, all alone and out of breath. Though Beacon’s seven-story building is nowhere as tall as Mountain Everest, for Beacon students, it might as well be since trekking up the stairs to the seventh floor takes as much strength and vigor as one might need to go up the Himalayan summit.
Indeed, it can feel lonely on the seventh floor. As a freshman, when I had gym class after lunch, as my friends and I hit the stairwells for our next class, a familiar chirp of “what floor are you going to?” bounced back and forth between us. “I’m going to 3,” or “I’m going to 5” were the usual, acceptable responses. Then, as I’d grumble, “I’m going to 7,” instead of hearing, “me too,” my friends would laugh or adorn me with praying hands as I climbed each step one by one. I watched my pals peel off from the staircase until the only sounds I could hear were the pants of my breath and the click of my Converse until I pushed open the double doors and entered, alas, the gleaming seventh floor.
Of course, I’m being dramatic. Yet, my asthma did not help with such struggles. Still, the seventh floor is often the most overlooked in the entire building — there are no official classrooms on the seven, so it is less populated than most floors of Beacon, and again, no one wants to walk up so many flights of stairs. However, the seventh floor has more gems than one might realize: the sprawling gym, the auditorium, and the 30′ x 80′ mural of colorful artwork that takes my breath away as a senior.
When you first enter the seventh floor, to your right, the auditorium stands. Inside it, you can hear whispers of past Black Excellence Shows, B’DAT musicals, and the occasional assembly about drug awareness.
To your left is the gym, the center of the seventh floor’s universe. The rotation of gym classes by Mr. Sacri, Ms. Rodriguez, and Mr. Simmons occurs within its bright white walls, as past PSAL championship posters and large basketball hoops loom overhead.
I had the chance to talk with Mr. Sarci, who has worked at Beacon as a gym teacher for 25 years and has made the seventh floor his home away from home during his time at Beacon.
Since Beacon moved from West 61st into its current building on West 44th St in 2015, Mr. Sarci has had much more room to work with regarding utilizing the total gym for recreation during class.
“The room that we had for the gym in the old building was 100 feet by 100 feet, which is a big room,” he laughed sarcastically. Even in such a tight space, Beacon’s collective gym teachers found a way to be creative and modify typical gym games into accessible student activities. Then, when the school moved and the new gym, large, bright, and filled with new possibilities, plopped into the hands of Mr. Sarci, he knew he could make magic happen all over again. On the switch, he added, “The way we looked at it was, if we were able to make things happen there, it should be easy for us to do that here.”
Gym class is a place where students can shed their skin and relieve the stress of academia that coats every other floor of Beacon. Mr. Sarci’s most important goal at the start of every school year is for students to develop new confidence within themselves by trying new games in the gym. “What I find to be the most satisfying thing is when we see students who come in passive and timid, after an extended time, all of a sudden, become engaged,” he smiled. “Next thing you know, they’re the ones crashing into the wall.”
Like last year when one of Mr. Sarci’s students wrote him a long email thanking him for helping her find what she called her “inner beast.” Pride dotted his eyes as he explained, “It was awesome to hear her thank you since as a freshman she was shy and at the end of the year she was performing and interacting with everybody.”
Gym class is no longer mandatory after freshman year. Many Beacon students — especially Beacon seniors — drop gym classes from their schedules since they may participate in a sport after school. However, Tyler Leiderman is one of few seniors who still attend gym even though the class is last period on his schedule, a time many students would rather have a free period to leave school early.
“I didn’t do any clubs or sports teams that would exempt me from the gym. It’s why I’m still here,” Tyler responded candidly.
While there are mainly freshmen and sophomores in Tyler’s gym class, he admits that he doesn’t do much social mixing as “the grades are pretty separate,” Instead, he finds solace in the “couple of seniors in the class like Garratt Rothberg and Sam Stearns.”
Of the various sports played in the gym, like flag football, basketball, and “Sockey” (Mr. Sarci’s creation of soccer/hockey), Tyler has enjoyed badminton the most. Yet one of his fondest memories in gym class was as a freshman. “I had a pretty good gym class,” he noted. “I was with all my friends and we did a basketball tournament in class. Then, my team won the basketball tournament,” he smiled.
My conversation with Tyler helped us realize that we were in the same gym class that year and didn’t even know one another! I remember that freshman year basketball tournament, but for very different reasons — my team was the first group eliminated.
Still, it wasn’t until this school year that Tyler and I became friends through a different class, but gym class was the invisible string.
On the final note of the seventh floor and its importance to Beacon, Mr. Sarci gleamed proudly: “I really can’t say it enough. The best part about being on the seventh floor are the windows.”
“If you go to most high schools in New York City, you will see that for whatever reason, the lighting is dark. They don’t have the sun that we get the sunshine that we get. When you looked out the window in the old building, every day was like you lived in Seattle, Washington. But now being on the seventh floor and having the sunlight with these windows really makes for a really nice situation.”
So if your last visit to the seventh floor was quite long ago, take a walk upstairs, and the sunlight of Manhattan will surely greet you there.