This place is dangerous?

Travis Bethke

The teachers are evil, the students are vicious, and the classrooms are dirty.

All of these statements are ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is the reputation that West Ottawa is “unsafe.” Nonetheless, this reputation does exist. “After going to Eagle Crest for six years, most of my friends and my parents did not like the idea of going to WO because they thought it was too big and too unsafe for people coming from a small school,” WO Jr. Emma DaNave said.

  Despite this reputation, I have attended WO high school for three years and have never worried about my safety for one good reason: I don’t have to.

  WO’s campus and student body are proven to be one of the safest in Michigan. Out of 900 public schools in Michigan, WO is ranked the 48th safest, which is excellent for also being the 3rd most diverse and the 10th largest. “I think WO is absolutely a safe place. My job at WO is to enforce emergency plans and keep the students safe. I took a tour of many schools in West Michigan, and WO had the safest environment and security plan by far,” Head of Security Ryan Lancaster said. “My job is made easier because the students get along so well, and make WO great.”

  According to a poll conducted at WO asking how safe students feel at school, 98% said that they always feel safe at WO. “I always feel safe at WO, whether it’s eating lunch in the cafeteria, in class, or walking between buildings, I can’t think of a time where I felt like I was in danger in any way,” Jr. Logan Reimink said. Reimink has attended WO high school for three years and has never witnessed any source of danger.  “Some people think that WO is unsafe because they think that there is gangs or violence, but I don’t feel like there is any of that. If there ever was a situation where someone’s safety was in danger, everyone has their back and everything would be solved without an issue,” Reimink said.

  After coming from a small school and having skepticism about WO’s safety, DaNave has been impressed with how safe WO is. “I have found WO to be a great school for me even after coming from a very small school. I don’t ever feel unsafe because I don’t see any danger around. I am glad I came to WO because I made friends quickly, and the people here are friendly,” DaNave said.   

  Most people tend to think that freshmen are in the most danger when attending a new high school. Although freshmen may be slightly more vulnerable, freshmen at WO have found that they feel just as welcome as anyone else. “West Ottawa has been a safe place for me from the start; I was surprised at first at how nice people were and how willing they were to help me as an incoming freshman. I think everyone gets along very well, and there have been no issues since I have been here,” Frosh. Blake Pedersen said.

  WO has enforced safety and community for years, and most parents and teachers believe that West Ottawa is safer than ever. “I had two kids go through WO from start to finish with no safety issues whatsoever. My kids graduated in 2007 and 2009, and I knew they were always in a safe environment, and I think WO is still a very safe place,” WO parent Pat Smith said.

 Instructor Christopher Norton, an English teacher at WO, has five kids. His intention is to send his kids to WO after they complete their primary educations at Corpus Christi. “I strongly believe in public education because it is one place where people can come together, be united, and learn to get along with people from every walk of life,” Norton said. Norton has taught at WO for eighteen years and has never felt unsafe. “I can confidently say WO is a very safe place because I have taught in schools, such as schools in California, where I have not felt safe for good reasons.” Norton would encourage students and parents not in the district to give WO a try even if they are skeptical. “Seeing is believing; if you think West Ottawa is unsafe, come see for yourself.” Norton believes that everyone will find that WO is a very safe no matter the day or occasion.

  From the beginning of WO’s existence, the students and staff have strived to make WO a safe and welcoming high school. With a wonderful staff and many extracurricular activities, WO encourages all students to get involved and become a part of a club, sport, or academic group. In all of these organizations, students work together and create relationships which make for a more welcoming community. With great security and emergency plans as well as friendly students and staff, your safety is one thing you don’t have to worry about at WO.