Devoid of both students and film for almost a decade, the Monterey High School darkroom is a throwback to a time before everyone had a sophisticated camera in their smartphone. Now it’s found a new purpose, and will be undergoing renovations in 2020 as it is transformed into a resource center for homeless and foster students, set to open at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
The plan was devised by Principal Thomas Newton, who describes it as an “operation of the heart.”
“[Homeless and foster students] don’t want to come to school because of unclean clothes, lack of food, materials and supplies,” Newton says. “We live in such an abundant area, why not provide some of those things?”
The plan is to stock the room with a washer and dryer, school supplies, food and clothes, largely provided through donations. A local church, All Things New – which congregates in the MHS cafeteria – is helping collect donations. Newton brought the idea to Pastor Justin Noseworthy, who describes the church’s role as being “anything the school needs.”
Newton anticipates the long-term cost will be about $2,000 per year to keep the center stocked, and expects about 130 MHS students with unstable housing situations will qualify to utilize it.
Students will check out keys to access the room, which will be open after school, on Saturdays, and during school breaks to protect students’ anonymity.
“Privacy and respect are huge, especially for families in this vulnerable situation,” MHS homeless liaison Kristen Gast says. The district is aiming to make the space as accessible as possible, without violating student privacy protections.