Why can’t underclassmen leave for lunch?!

Why cant underclassmen leave for lunch?!

Underclassmen have a reputation for being immature. It’s simply nature; younger people tend to act more naive and make worse decisions. That’s why at West Ottawa High School, only the senior class is allowed to leave campus for lunch. 

   “…we don’t necessarily think it’s a wise idea to allow all 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students to be coming and going from campus during lunch. It increases traffic on and around campus and opens us up to some unnecessary safety concerns,” Assistant Principal Jake Manning said. But many students are not happy with the rule, and would prefer a change.

   Underclassmen already have a lot expected of them. High school spares no mercy in preparing young students for adult life, and that means treating them as such; expecting them to behave in a mature and professional manner (at least some of the time), expecting them to show up early and ready to learn, and expecting them to maintain that schedule year-round, like an actual career. 

      On top of all that is the expectation to also show up to every class on time every day, with heavy penalties being the punishment otherwise.

   So if this is the case, then why aren’t underclassmen allowed to leave campus for lunch?

   The rule operates on the assumption that younger students can’t leave campus and also return safely on time. But, considering all the other responsibilities that school already expects of students, this is silly. Like mentioned earlier, students already need to show up to school and class on time every day and act like adults. Lunch is no different; administration should have faith in students to keep themselves safe and to also show up on time.

   Many underclassmen do not have licenses or cars, so the rule may not seem to even matter in the first place. But it’s possible that underclassmen know others who do have vehicles and IDs, so there’s no reason that they can’t accompany them to go out for lunch. Those who have a license are already considered legally responsible drivers by the state, so schools should feel no need to intervene.

   And who is to say that seniors are more mature in the first place? Sure, they’re older, but age isn’t the best measure of maturity. Any student could picture multiple seniors that they think really shouldn’t be trusted to go off campus, and in contrast, many underclassmen that can.

   Not only would underclassmen greatly appreciate this freedom, but it makes more sense. Many underclassmen are older than seniors, and may have a license before them. In that case, there’s no reason their grade level should prevent them from leaving campus.

   “Age, not grade, should be the only factor when deciding who gets to drive off campus. Why should a sophomore who is 16 and has his or her license have to wait all the way until junior year to drive off campus? That is illogical and unfair,” says Miles Albert and Andrew Jiang, writers from The Saratoga Falcon.

By Brady Shoemaker

Why Underclassmen are not Allowed to Leave for Lunch

   Remember the time of being fresh in high school, 14-15 years old, not many responsibilities, and still not able to drive yet. At that age, teens aren’t that mature and tend to make bad decisions more often than not. Many parents rely on the school to keep students safe during the day by staying on campus and knowing that their children are at school instead of going out for lunch. 

   Once high schoolers leave campus, the school does not know where they are for the half-hour lunch period. It’s a big responsibility for students to handle, leaving campus for lunch and returning by the bell so they won’t arrive late.

   The advantages students gain can seem endless: more options for lunch, more freedoms, and shorter lines. But, responsibility comes with these freedoms. The cons outweigh the pros; with underclassmen being out during lunch, students are more likely to show up tardy for class or even skip their next class if they lose track of time or would rather continue having as much fun as they can while they’re out and about.

   Safety is the number one priority at schools. By taking that safety away, the outcomes are countless that can lead to injury. If a majority were to leave campus for lunch, traffic would back up in the parking lot and on the road during peak lunch hours for other people working which would raise the level of chaos.

   Car accidents would have a higher percentage of happening with the more young and inexperienced drivers on the road. Underclassmen can act immaturely and many students would have to carpool to leave. Yelling and messing around in the car also increases the chance to get into an accident.

   New drivers are exposed to 4 major danger zones of driving: Driver inexperience, driving with teen passengers, distracted, and reckless driving. Studies shown by the CDC show that new student drivers are nearly 3 times more likely to get in a fatal car crash per mile driven. For drivers ages 15-19, there have been over 250,000 car injuries yearly and over 2,500 deaths since 2019. With a daily increase of new drivers on the road, the numbers will continue to rise.