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Is It Safe to Leave Campus During School Hours?

Located+right+across+the+street+from+campus%2C+%22The+Mich%22+is+a+popular+restaurant+destination+for+students+-+during+school+-+and+after.+
Located right across the street from campus,

Located right across the street from campus, "The Mich" is a popular restaurant destination for students - during school - and after.

Located right across the street from campus, "The Mich" is a popular restaurant destination for students - during school - and after.

Eleazar Barrios, Reporter

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South Houston High School, located alongside a busy intersection, is close to many eating establishments that students visit everyday. The school’s administration does its best to prevent students from crossing over to these restaurants during lunch period, but that has proven to be a difficult task to manage. For one thing, the school does not have enough staff to stop all the students who try to leave campus. In addition, the administration is lenient with the students it catches. This gives students no incentive to stop. If the school doesn’t effectively enforce the policy, then why should it be enforced at all? The school should add enough faculty to secure the areas where students are most likely to leave from and punish more severely those they catch.

 

South Houston is a closed campus, meaning students can only enter and leave before and after school, or with a parent or guardian during school hours. It’s pretty easy for a student to leave campus. The school is located within walking distance of restaurants, and teenagers love breaking rules. It’s an adrenaline rush to walk across a street to get something to eat that’s different from the what is served at school. The school has implemented a patrolling golf cart, but a smart student will figure out the patrol’s patterns. And there is not enough staff to effectively secure the school’s perimeter of three doors and four gates that lead directly to the outside of the school including a huge athletic field surrounded by a low, chain-linked fence. “It’s fairly difficult because it’s a wide-open campus with a lot of exits and entrances,” explained Jeremy Barrett, a hall monitor at South Houston High School.

 

Probably one of the biggest concerns of the school’s administration is that a student might cross the street and be struck by oncoming traffic, according to Richard Stalling, an assistant principal at South Houston High School. Parents send their kids to what they expect to be a safe school, and it is safe until a student takes the unnecessary risk of running across the street because he or she does not like what is served in the cafeteria. Many of the students that choose to do this don’t use the crosswalk. That is faster but also riskier. There was at least one incident earlier this semester where a student crossed Shaver on the way to school in the morning without using a crosswalk and was struck by a car, which severely injured the student.

 

If students are caught leaving or entering campus during school hours, they are likely to be given a verbal warning on the first offense, then, if they are repeat offenders, they could be written up for truancy. “Yet we’ll still have students disregard those directives and still go to lunch,” Stallings said.

 

One of the biggest motives for students leaving is because of the food they are served. Many of the students don’t find the school appetizing so they look for alternatives and many of those alternatives are just across the street. Additionally, many students think it is okay to leave campus, when a student sees another one of his peers leave then the student will think it’s okay to leave campus temporarily, especially when the required distance to walk across isn’t much. “It’s just across the street,” pointed out Angel Vega, a senior at South Houston High School, about how easy it is to get to La Michoacana, a food store and restaurant across from campus on Edgebrook.

 

Students shouldn’t be allowed to leave campus for safety reasons, but if no one is doing anything about it then what’s the point of even enforcing it at all? The school should hire more staff to seal the side of campus facing the intersection where most of the student traffic occurs.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Is It Safe to Leave Campus During School Hours?”

  1. David on March 17th, 2017 9:50 am

    I am not a student. I am a South Houston resident and native. I moved away about 30 years ago and recently returned to my hometown a little over a year ago. I live right near the campus. While I respect your opinion and I completely understand why many would agree with you, I do not. These are young men and women who are fully capable of safely crossing a street. I am not saying that they will, only that they are responsible young adults and they are capable. I feel the “closed campus” is an outdated concept in this day and age. The campus should be open for lunch periods. Students should be allowed to go and eat or bring back food from wherever they like as long as they are back within the alloted time allowed for lunch. The parents should be made aware and they can set and enforce limits on their children. They should not expect the school to do this. These are not elementary students we are talking about. As adults it is their responsibility to cross streets safely. If they do not, only the student is to blame, not the school (special needs individuals excepted). The safety of the students is the responsibility of the school while they are on school property. The school should not have to expend precious funds trying to keep growning young men and women from going to eat where they chose for lunch. The school will be better off the students will be happier and will bear the responsibility themselves, something they need to be learning to do, also freeing them of having to break rules and sneak out. It is a financially and psychologically and socially beneficial.

    I sincerely hope my comments have a positive impact on the policies in question here at South Houston High School. My parents went to school here. My mother just mentioned to me that when she attended school here, girls were not allowed to wear open toed shoes for fear the boys would get too distracted by it… outdated thinking she said…I’ll bet there are still many teachers and parents who still feel that way because that is how they were brought up to feel. Now days it is common to see girls in open toe shoes everywhere it should no longer be the distraction it once was when the fashion was new. Likewise young people tend to eat out. Even when I was in high school (graduated in 85) we often ate at Whataburger, Mytiburger, or other nearby fast food restaurant for lunch. We could even go in our cars. 30 years later it should be the accepted norm. I was surprised to see this article and learn that soho hs was a closed campus. Honestly, I am equally surprised by the authors stance on the matter. I expected the opposite.

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Is It Safe to Leave Campus During School Hours?