Administration Should Consider the Root of the Problem at Dismissal Time

Sneaking out at 2:44 p.m. saves 10 minutes of traffic time

Jack Nelson, Staff Writer

The SHS administration is cracking down on a habit that has plagued students this year, the vast majority being juniors and seniors: leaving last block classes early.  If any student is caught leaving the classroom or the building prior to the 2:46 p.m. bell, they will be questioned and given a warning. Repeated “offenses” result in H Block detention. In order to enforce this rule, the administration will be proactively checking camera footage and patrolling the hallways to ensure all students are obeying the designated time constraints. 

As logical and honorable as it is for the administration to hold students accountable for their learning time and punctuality, the pettiness with which they have dealt with the issue has not been received well by students.  Widespread student dissatisfaction at this end stems back to the administration’s failure to understand or even consider why many choose to “sneak out” in the first place. Rather than circling students like vultures to an animal carcass, the administration must realize students don’t just leave early for no reason at all–there is a method to their “madness.”

Two major reasons exist as to why students are leaving their last block classes early, both of which are fully justifiable. The primary one, and the major culprit for students with parking spots on campus, is to get a head start on the painfully slow traffic.  This problem is no secret at SHS. It is a problem that students despise while the administration has often tried and failed to solve.  

When it comes to getting home as soon as possible, a few minutes represents the difference between getting off-campus in 2 minutes versus 10. Students have taken to leaving classes early in order to avoid the latter. Sitting in their car moving at 0 mph is simply what they didn’t have in mind at the end of a long, stressful day at school. Those 10 minutes of waiting also become a major inconvenience for student-athletes. Many practices are held off-campus and begin at an unfairly close time in relation to 2:46 p.m., yet students are expected to arrive on time, dressed, and equipped for the occasion. Is it really so wrong for students to want to be reliable for their commitments?

The other reason is that students are generally disengaged and at the end of their attention span when the last few minutes of the day are ticking away. This has, for the most part, not been countered by many teachers at SHS, as their tendencies are to end lesson plans early during the last block. Rather than teaching or overseeing group/individual work for the full 63-minute slot, they choose to let students relax for the waning moments of the period. When the administration comes to terms with this reality, there is simply no good reason to blame students for wanting to leave early. 

If the administration truly wants to keep students in classes and in the building, they should focus on holding teachers more accountable for full-time teaching, to ensure they are fostering an engaging learning environment. In the chain of administrative accountability to teacher accountability to student accountability, the administration is trying to solve this issue by skipping over the second and directly targeting the third. This tactic is not effective.

I offer two solutions to the mass exodus of students prior to the final bell, both of which the administration is solely responsible for weighing: put serious effort into solving the SHS traffic problem rather than slapping Band-aids onto a gaping wound (speed-bumps, signs, standing outside), or work with teachers to maximize learning time in the classroom. Scolding students for leaving a few minutes early is not the right approach.