Sweating, stressed, annoyed – these words describe the Olympic Heights students waiting on their rides to pick them up after school at the school’s front entrance, the designated waiting spot. Many students have to stand in front of the school up to an hour or longer for their rides in an area not suitable for that purpose. Clearly, this is a topic that needs to be addressed.
The designated waiting area – from the flagpole west to the gates at the front entrance to the school – leaves students with only two small, metal benches to sit on that can only accommodate a total of six of the many students waiting on rides. This leaves the vast majority of those students with no option but to stand or sit on the ground in the blazing afternoon sun or to roam the campus looking for a better waiting spot.
Unless it is raining, students are not allowed to wait in the mall area in front of the main office just on the other side of the gates where at least they would have shelter from the sun. Also, the designated waiting area is less than ideal for those students who might want to utilize their waiting time to get a jump on their homework assignments.
According to OH assistant principal Ms. Stacey Belton, who oversees the after school community school program, the limited designated waiting area is for safety purposes. Belton rightly explains that students cannot be allowed to roam the campus looking for a waiting spot more to their liking, even though many do.
Belton further explains that the school district requires that the school only provide campus security for 30 minutes after the 2:50 p.m. dismissal bell. However, the community school program does pay one resource officer to provide security and supervision from 3:20 p.m. until the evening’s community schools programs and activities are completed.
It is part of that one resource officer’s responsibility to supervise those students waiting on rides at the front of the school as well as those students/athletes waiting after practices on the activities buses – which arrive at 6:00 p.m.- at the northwest corner of the student parking lot near the front gates to the stadium entrance. This area offers no place to sit other than on the ground. With the one school resource officer responsible for supervision of both waiting areas, this means that at any given time, one, if not both, of the two waiting areas is not being supervised.
Ideally, the media center could be made available for those students waiting on their rides. Not only does the media center provide shelter and comfort from the weather, it is an ideal place for those students wishing to get a start on their homework. The computers, printers, and academic resources in the media center would be extremely beneficial to these students.
However, Belton explains that opening the media center is not an option as it would require paying for a second person to supervise the students in the media center in addition to the resource officer patrolling the campus after 3:20 p.m.
While we at The Torch believe this is a cost worth taking on, we offer another solution that would not require a second person be hired to supervise waiting students. We suggest the designated ride-waiting area be moved to the west side of the 1000 building adjacent to the courtyard where the concrete tables with benches are. This would provide for more seating and tables for those students wishing to do homework. This area, while obviously not air-conditioned, at least provides for shelter from the sun.
We feel that the after hours resource officer could just as easily supervise this area as the area in front of the school. Students would only be allowed to leave the area once they have received a text or call indicating that their ride has arrived. This area is also somewhat closer to the activities bus waiting area, even though it is our understanding that coaches are supposed to be supervising their athletes waiting on the activities buses.
Again, access to the media center would be the best scenario for all, as students could make more productive use of their wait time. It also seems it would be easier to supervise students in a confined room rather than an outdoors area. Regardless, the students’ safety and comfort should be the school’s priority, even if it comes at a slight additional cost.