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Westhill has it – why don’t we?

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This should be the year SHS seniors finally have the opportunity to have a modified open campus. If Stamford High School were to adopt a modified open campus for seniors, students would be able to leave the SHS campus during a study hall.  A similar privilege has been granted to neighboring Westhill High School, and at AITE (Academy of Information, Technology and Engineering).

Under such a policy, parents/guardians would grant permission for their student to arrive at school late, and to leave if they have a study hall. The limited open campus option should be offered only to seniors who are in good academic and attendance standing. Students will also need to have a positive disciplinary record.

Parent/guardians wishing to grant permission for their student to leave campus would complete the open campus application, return it, and wait for administration to approve the request.  After it is verified that the student meets the criteria for participation, a “Senior Modified Open Campus Card” would be issued. Students would be required to present this card to security when they are leaving and when entering the building for open campus. If this plan were to be adopted by SHS, seniors would likely also have to exit and enter through the front of the school, signing in and out with security staff to ensure school safety.

The fact is, seniors at Stamford High School leave campus on a daily basis whether they are allowed to or not, and it would be right to let students leave while keeping the school safe. It is not necessary to administer Saturday school or threaten seniors with discipline of that sort because as they are seniors, they have acquired the maturity to receive this privilege after following both academic and behavioral requirements for the past three years. This situation is more the fault of the building’s design than anything else; according to security guard Frank Russo Jr., “there are so many doors in this school it is hard to control how many people leave each day.” This risks the safety of the school because students, security, administration, and faculty do not know who is entering and exiting the school.

The senior open campus program should be a privilege given to students who demonstrate sound judgment and self-responsibility. The school administration would reserve the right to revoke the limited open campus option at any time for students who violate school rules and regulations, or who do not maintain a positive attendance, academic, and disciplinary record. Any classes that are missed as a result of a student leaving campus would be considered unexcused absences, and therefore,  non-appealable absences.

While some people may believe that the area around SHS is not safe for pedestrians, consider the fact that the district doesn’t offer bus service to students who live under two miles from school, requiring students who live within this range to walk both to and from school during peak transportation times.  If SPS makes students walk that distance in the morning during rush hour, and again in the afternoon when the roads are once again very busy, it is difficult to see how it would be any more dangerous to do so during less congested times of day.

An open campus will directly benefit seniors because it will allow them to be able to get more school work done, or potentially be able to work more hours at their job. This is because leaving school for last block gives seniors an extra hour in the day, and allowing students to miss first block can help them catch up on sleep that they miss the night before due to staying up studying, doing homework, or college applications.  Additionally, allowing seniors to leave during other study hall blocks will allow them to be more productive during a free period so after school they can focus on any school work they may have, stay after school for extra help, or go to their sports practice or club meeting. While none of the specifications stated above are official, they are our suggested requirements to be eligible to participate in the Senior Privilege program.

For all of these reasons, this should be the year SHS seniors join their peers across town, and finally have the opportunity to enjoy a modified open campus.

 

The draft of this editorial was written by Sam Diamond and Sinead Martin, and then revision suggestions by the Editorial Staff were incorporated.

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Westhill has it – why don’t we?