‘It feels like a jail’: Thomas Jefferson H.S. students pleading for new desks, chairs

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Broken chairs and crumbling desks are just a few of the problems plaguing the Thomas Jefferson High School building in Richmond. 

The school is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, and parents and students are hoping the community will pitch in to upgrade the classrooms. 

Parents and students told 8News that not only is most of the furniture broken, but it dates back to the 1950s. They said that since there’s not a line item in the current budget for furniture, they are taking matters into their own hands.

They’re hoping to replace hundreds of desks and chairs, but they need the community’s help to make that dream a reality. 

“When I first walk into TJ, the lights are dim — it feels like a jail almost when you’re walking in,” Thomas Jefferson High School senior, Christopher Josephs, said. 

From the outside, the building of Thomas Jefferson shows off its art deco design. But inside, it’s a different story. 

“It don’t feel good when you walk in,” Josephs added. 

Students point out to 8News the aging desks and broken chairs. 

“Old, all drawn on, gum still under it … just nothing new,” Nicholas Turner, a senior at the school, said. 

Pictures show chunks of chairs missing, leaving jagged edges. 

“Broken chair … that could go into someone’s back. It would be painful, very painful,” Josephs said.  

“Loose like nails, loose like a safety hazard,” Turner said.  

But students told 8News that when they visit Maggie Walker or Huguenot High School, things look different. 

“We have chairs that’s like, broke, like missing, and then other schools, everything seems so perfect,” Turner added.  

Parents are working to raise close to $100,000 to buy new chairs and desks to improve learning. 

“You can’t work effectively that way or at your best that way. And if we have basic resources, then that can be built on,” Thomas Jefferson parent, Betsy Milburn, said. 

“People don’t want that in their house. Then people always talking about, uh schools, this schools that, but it’s like look where you all sending us to,” Turner said. 

The goal right now is to raise $25,000 by next month to buy 200 desk and 200 chairs. 

A link to the GoFundMe page can be found here.

Michelle Hudacsko, an Richmond Public School official, told 8News via email on Monday that the school district does not have a furniture line in their budget but that if schools wanted other items, “like chairs or bean bags for a book nook,” they could raise money for them. 

Hudacsko also said that if a school does not have desks or chairs in good working order then they should immediately report it. 

Find 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

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