English Office Relocated While Facilities Investigates Smell in Rothenberg Humanities Building


Gia S.

The English office desks are empty due to the relocation.

Director of Facilities Ms. Irina Kotsinian in her office. (Gia S.)

After reports of an unpleasant smell in the English office in the Rothenberg Humanities Building, Westridge administration and facilities temporarily relocated the English department to Room 4 in the Main Building on Friday, February 10. Classes that took place in Room 4—including Latin, Mandarin, and Perspectives in Literature—have been moved to PA2, a small classroom that was previously used as the COVID-19 “Isolation Room” and for orchestra sectional practices.

A few months ago, Director of Facilities Ms. Irina Kotsinian received several reports from English teachers about the English office’s unpleasant odor. 

Upper School English teacher Ms. Anna Oseran has noticed the English office’s smell since she started working in the Upper School two years ago. “[The smell has] always been kind of a problem, but I think it became a little more persistent in recent months and became harder to work in.”

Ms. Stevenson and Ms. Yurchak work in the temporary English office during lunchtime.

After receiving the reports, Ms. Kotsinian and her team decided to investigate the source of the smell to efficiently tackle the issue. “We’ve decided that we’re going to deploy a really good comprehensive study, find where the smell is coming from, how we can help to remediate that issue, how we can make it nice and very pleasant for people to work [in their office].”
The plumbing consultant is in the midst of creating a report to check whether the vents are working, what modifications are needed, and when an air conditioning unit can be installed to help ventilate and diminish the smell in the English office.

It is currently unclear how much construction is necessary and how long the relocation will last as the report is still in progress.

Ms. Oseran and Mr. Duncan working during lunch.

While facilities investigate the smell, the English teachers have been moved out of their office so that their working space and ability to meet with students would not be disrupted if construction needs to be done. “For instance, we are planning to do [a new] air conditioning installation, and then that will require [the contractor] to open up the ceiling tiles and [run new utility lines]. That would be really difficult to accomplish around people being in [the] office, especially our teachers—they’re so busy, they see students all the time,” said Ms. Kotsinian.

However, classes that used to meet in Room 4 have also needed to be relocated. Registrar Mr. Jackson Finnerman and facilities worked closely to move most of those classes into PA2.

Latin teacher Dr. Diane Pintabone taught three classes in Room 4 this year. On Tuesday, February 7, she found out that her eighth grade Latin class, Latin I class, Latin II class, and her advisory were going to be relocated to PA2 starting that Thursday so the English department could move into Room 4. After Dr. Pintabone spoke with Mr. Finnerman, Latin I was moved back into the Main Building in Room 7. 

After three of Dr. P’s classes were relocated, she talked about the differences between Room 4 and PA2. In Room 4, the Latin memes and posters on the walls, Dr. P said, were “funny, silly things that make the space feel like it’s our space.” (Gia S.)

In Room 4, the walls are covered in Latin memes, jokes, student artwork, and teaching aids including a joke about gerunds and gerundives, a poster of the Colosseum in relation to Circus Maximus, and art of Benedict Cumberbatch. “The students have mentioned that they miss the memes and some of our inside jokes.” Dr. Pintabone said. She later added, “So it’s like just funny, silly things that make the space feel like it’s our space…[PA2] doesn’t really feel like our Latin space, like our classroom.”

Next to the door of Room 4, there is a sign that informs students of the new classroom location in PA2. Accompanying it is a photograph of PA2’s door to help students find it. (Gia S.)

Dr. Pintabone’s students have also felt the effects of the shift from Room 4 to PA2.

“It’s kind of nice, in a certain way, that I don’t have to walk up the stairs,” Micah M. ’25 said. “But there are benefits to that old classroom. It’s decorated with Latin and different languages—you know, different photos and…words around the wall.”

Dr. Pintabone also said that the new classroom’s small size and desk configuration prevent her from walking around the class and reaching students in the corner. The compact room particularly affects her in D Block where she teaches 13 students. 

“[PA2]’s just a little bit more clumped feeling. Like I’m right against the SmartBoard,” Micah said.

Latin classes during A and D Blocks can also sometimes hear violins warming up on the other side of the door because of its proximity to Braun Music Center, where orchestra classes practice. The sounds of violins and other orchestral instruments can sometimes disrupt their learning environment, whether that be during a lesson or a test.

PA2 is a small classroom beside Braun. “It’s just a little bit more clumped feeling,” Micah M. ’25, whose Latin class was moved from Room 4 to PA2, said. (Gia S.)

In addition to Latin students, Orchestra students are also impacted. Isla R. ’25 said that in her orchestra class, they used to use PA2 to rehearse in section groups. “Now that that room is being occupied during our class by another class…some groups have to work outside, which is really annoying, especially during winter when it was still super cold,” said Isla.

Dr. Pintabone expressed her empathy for the English department and hoped for a quick return to the normal classrooms. “I feel for the English teachers being displaced from their office,” she said. “I hope that they get a good, healthy space back…and that [the students and I] get our room back.”

Mr. Duncan makes a sad face while sitting at his desk in the temporary English office. (Gia S.)