About 1,000 high school students flooded Youngstown State University on Wednesday, leaving Kilcawley Center frequenters navigating long lunch lines and enduring the commotion.
High school students from northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania remained on campus until 4 p.m. The three-day event began Wednesday and will end Friday — but not before welcoming approximately 2,000 seventh, eighth and ninth graders.
The festival is designed to celebrate reading and writing, but some YSU students were less than amused.
Freshman Kellie Kesner and her friends were on a tight schedule.
After waiting in line for food, they were late for class.
“It was way too busy in Kilcawley Center, and we didn’t want to wait in line, so we went to Jimmy John’s instead,” Kesner said. “They could probably set up a picnic for [high school students] outside instead.”
YSU faculty and staff acknowledged the issue, but said the crowd is unavoidable.
John Young, director of Kilcawley Center, said dining services did a quick-serve station for pizza.
“They do cash only, and they were actually able to expedite people through there,” Young said.
While long lines of students wrapped through the hallways connecting eateries, Young said it was great to see the building busy.
“It’s a great experience for these kids to actually see the university,” he said.
Throughout the English Festival, Young will check to make sure the program runs smoothly.
“Basically, it’s clean up, prep and get set for the next day,” he said.
Gary Salvner, English Festival co-chairman, added that dining services is notified in advance to try to have food ready ahead of time.
“I know that it fills the place up, but it’s been great for the business here also,” Salvner said.
Lynn Haug, Kilcawley Center retail operations manager, said the Candy Counter staff prepares a month in advance and bags 500 to 600 bags of candy.
“We start ordering inventory in to have it ready from all our vendors almost a month ahead, and then about 10 days ahead, all the girls on the Candy Counter staff start pre-bagging all the candy,” she said.
While all YSU students interviewed expressed concern about the crowd and the commotion, senior Heather Folkwein was the most vocal. She said the visit from the high school students distracted her from her studies.
“Honestly, I feel like these little children are overbearing, and they shouldn’t really be here because they take up so much space,” she said. “We’re in college, and we’re trying to study and focus on school, but then we have the annoyance of high school children coming in.”
Folkwein said she wishes the English Festival were monitored more frequently. She said the event would be tolerable if the students were quieter and more respectful of the fact that they’re on a college campus.
High school English Festival participants also had to endure the swarm of fellow students.
Reynolds High School junior Chloe Diraimondo said she had fun during the book sessions, but felt lunch was annoying and crowded. Diraimondo had to wait in line 10 minutes for her food.
“More seating would be nice, considering I’m sitting on a stage right now,” she said, as she perched in Kilcawley Center’s Hub.