By: Zack Murray – October, 2011
Up until this September, North Andover High School was the last public high school in the region without a regimented security program.
Seniors had the ability to leave school campus for lunch, provided they returned on time for their next class. Students were allowed to walk freely to their lockers, or to the library to get a head start on their school work.
As of the 2011-2012 school year the faculty at North Andover High has instituted a near lockdown procedure for day-to-day schedules. All outside doors are locked at 7:45AM save for a few of the North entrance doors, in which visitors and late students must go through to enter the school. During lunch, students are placed into the cafeteria and a small area just outside of it, which is then cordoned off by a small, yellow, children’s playpen-fence type of gate. Should someone need to go to their locker or visit the library, they require a special pass from the librarian to go there.
During class time, students who leave their classroom hold a color-coded hall pass, particular to each wing of the building they are housed in.
If a student is found outside of their wing with the pass, they get in trouble. Nobody is allowed to leave class within the first five minutes and the last five minutes of class. There are also designated teachers who watch the hallways during class periods. It is safe to say that there have been incidences in the past where kids have skipped classes, but I have not found it to be an epidemic of any sort.
Kids being truant or skipping classes entirely should be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. Restricting access to the library or other school materials during the student’s only free period is both overprotective and wrong. If someone was to need a computer for an urgent e-mail regarding homework or if they needed to print something out, they are denied access and are forced to take zeroes on whatever the assignment was.
I’ve personally experienced a point where the principal did not want to accept the fact that I had a pass and told me to use the main office phone to make sure it was okay to go up to the library during lunch. Even after I had received the “Okay” to go up there, the very next day the principal would not allow me to leave the cafeteria.
The new rules have stirred up an outcry from nearly every student. People have begun to refer to the school as a prison, or a juvenile correctional facility. I am still not sure what the faculty is trying to prevent; the presentation we were shown did not address the logistics of these new policies. We were only told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.
Perhaps it is just a show of force, meaning the school is just trying to show off how well it can “control” a large group of students. Perhaps it is something else. Whatever the reason, students should be informed of what is going on.
In my view, the new rules are rather harmful to student learning, and it may be quite some time before the staff realizes that.