WHS works toward solutions to parking problems

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WHS works toward solutions to parking problems

Most spaces in the student parking lot were occupied on the morning of Monday, September 23.

Most spaces in the student parking lot were occupied on the morning of Monday, September 23.

Adi Saligrama

Most spaces in the student parking lot were occupied on the morning of Monday, September 23.

Adi Saligrama

Adi Saligrama

Most spaces in the student parking lot were occupied on the morning of Monday, September 23.

Casey Friedman, Adi Saligrama, and Alexandra Liang

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Towards the beginning of the school year, a slew of emails detailing changes to parking and open campus policy were sent out to students and parents. On August 28 the school announced that juniors would be losing parking and open campus privileges starting this year. However, after concerns were brought up during meetings with students and parents of the class of 2021, this plan was reversed two days later. 

“I was really shocked when I read the email. The announcement for the new rules was very abrupt and was never mentioned to us or our parents before,” junior Jordan Gutwillig said. “There just wasn’t enough notice ahead of time.”

Soon after the initial policy reversal, a Parking Committee comprised of five teachers, seven parents, six juniors, and one senior was formed in order to reach a permanent solution by November 1.

“Everyone on the committee is really trying to come up with a good solution that will keep our culture strong, and keep the values and spaces that everyone needs,” science teacher Leah Gordon, a member of the committee, said. “We’ve only had one meeting so far. I’m a little worried that it’s a small community with a big task and a relatively short timeline, so I hope we’ll be able to meet our obligations.”

With the announcement of the parking committee’s formation on September 12 also came a proposal to temporarily add new offsite parking spaces.

  “In the meantime, we are seeking to secure temporary spaces at St. Demetrios Church as well as creating new permanent parking along both driveways for potentially 40-50 more spaces,” the email read. 

One issue that is already resolved is the question of open campus privileges for upperclassmen. In a letter dated September 20, Parker announced open campus would be eliminated for juniors starting with the class of 2022.

The proposed solutions are a result of the initial concerns that were raised by the broader community. After the original email was received, members of the class of 2021 and their parents attended the public School Committee meeting to voice their complaints. 

“This new policy completely throws off the plans of countless families that have made arrangements under the impression that their children would be able to get themselves to and from school, and to before and after school extracurriculars,” junior class president Nate Icke explained during the meeting. 

Icke’s initial speech prompted many other community members and students to voice further concerns. By the time the school had announced the initial loss of parking privileges for juniors, parents had already bought cars for their children to use. Many students additionally spoke about living in households where their ability to drive to school would be critical to their families.

Some seniors also agreed that the initial implementation of the parking policy came too late into the summer. 

“This is the kind of stuff that needed to be rolled out at the beginning of summer to work out the kinks so that it can actually happen once school starts,” senior McKay Sumsion said.

Senior Sam Hubbard noted that he would have agreed with the initial policy change if it had been proposed earlier in the year. 

“If people have been told earlier in the summer, with town-wide bussing, I actually think that the juniors not being able to park is fair,” Hubbard said. “Parking isn’t a right, it’s a privilege.”

Although the community’s reactions to these policy changes varied, many are now focused on working together towards a solution.

“We all have a hard time when we feel as if something of ours has been taken and the truth is a bit more murky. So I understand people’s disappointment, but we have to move past that and find a solution,” English teacher Michael Kelley said.

Despite certain setbacks, the school and Parking Committee have devoted themselves to finding a solution before the first quarter ends and more updates to this situation should be available soon. 

“It’s a math problem,” music department head Christopher Memoli explained. “If students and the school work together, we can solve it.”

The Parking Committee will continue to meet regularly in order to move forward with a solution.