Lockers increasingly are obsolete in Midlands schools.
Students at schools opened in the past few years – including Westwood High in Richland 2 and River Bluff High and Meadow Glen Middle in Lexington 1 – walk in hallways lacking storage for books, coats and other paraphernalia.
Many lockers also were taken out at Richland Northeast High and Ridge View High – both in Richland 2 – as part of recent renovations.
Fumbling with combination locks and decorating the interior of the metal containers were rites of passage when their parents were teenagers a generation ago.
The disappearance reflects the shift from instruction rooted in textbooks to learning primarily through digital technology, educators say.
“They aren’t needed as much as they used to be,” Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said of lockers. “You’re definitely seeing a decline.”
But lockers aren’t headed for the academic scrap pile yet.
Some still are in use mainly for gym classes and storage of sports equipment and musical instruments at many schools, even those newly built.
They also are available to students in some schools such as Muller Road Middle in Richland 2, upon request.
But officials say that interest is fading as academic gear often fits in backpacks.
“Many students simply do not use them any more,” said architect Joel Carter, whose firm recommended that River Bluff omit lockers in hallways.
Reliance on electronic notebooks means students no longer need to exchange books during class changes.
Lockers also are passe as a coat-check.
Midlands weather often is mild enough that outerwear isn’t necessary or can be stuffed into backpacks, Carter said.
One benefit from the disappearance of lockers is less congested hallways, educators say.
At River Bluff, the extra space was turned into conversation areas for teachers and students to work and discuss outside of classrooms.
“With lockers, kids were on top of each other, piling on each other, creating conflict,” Carter said. “Now there are collaborative areas where they work together.”