Photo credit by Gabby Pawlowski
Every student and faculty member of West Essex High School is aware of the condition of the hallways and senior parking lot at the end of the school day. The 2:35 p.m. bell marks the instant where students are released from classrooms, resulting in chaos. Seniors speed through the hallways in attempts to get to their cars fast enough. The ones who walk are stuck sitting in the traffic from everyone trying to leave at one time. Students are put in a tough spot here; they can either rush to their cars to beat the dreaded line of cars and buses, or they leave campus later.
Vice-principal Kimberly Westervelt has expressed her concern for the safety of the students regarding getting to school and leaving smoothly. In attempts to get everyone out in one piece, Westervelt and the other administrators have recently taken matters into their own hands.
“The biggest concern with our campus is just the setup; there’s only one way in and one way out which is why we have a lot of traffic at the end of the day,” Westervelt said. “Something that we have been doing is I will hold up the traffic and allow all the seniors out of the parking lot. This way seniors don’t feel like they have to run to their car and they don’t feel like they have to rush out of their spot if they know that I’m holding traffic to allow everyone to exit.”
There have been a few common misconceptions regarding this situation. The first one is that the three accidents that have happened so far this year occurred during dismissal. In actuality, they were all from students getting to school in the morning. These fender-benders are not a result of the end of the day madness, rather from students’ lack of experience. The second one is why the buses are able to leave before all the seniors in the first place.
“I suggest that either the buses wait for all of us to leave or we wait for the buses to leave because both should not happen at the same time,” senior Angie Marotta said. “The reason why students run to their cars is so they can get out before the buses can.”
What seniors might not know is that West Essex isn’t the buses’ only stop, they have a second route to attend to after.
“We do have to be mindful because the high school is the first route for them,” Westervelt said. “After they finish here, they have to go to the elementary schools and do those routes as well so there is always a concern for time.”
In the grand scheme of things, the issue that is prevalent is not the schedule that the buses are on. The issue is this shared impatience amongst seniors to get out as fast as they can. If seniors can understand the reality of “good things come to those who wait,” everyone in this process will be able to take a second to breathe.