Open campus proves a success

Alexis Condon, Editor in Chief

Now that open campus is in full swing, seniors have been able to catch up on much-needed sleep. Those with a free period have the luxury of choice: to sleep in, to grab breakfast, or to catch up on work before heading in to school. If their free block falls at the end of the day, all they have to do to leave is sign themselves out at the front office.

Open campus, a joint effort of the administration and student council is a senior privilege that serves to boost morale and reward positive behavior. To remain eligible, a student must be “in good standing.” Once a student not in good standing serves the consequences on time and demonstrates a willingness to comply with the reasonable requests of adults, he or she is eligible. Any student who cuts class, or is on social probation as a result of a suspension or safety concern to the community, will have the privilege revoked.

Senior class representative Owen Engler was one of the students who saw the implementation of open campus through from idea to reality. “Last year, seniors didn’t like how they couldn’t leave when they had study hall,” he said, “especially when they didn’t have work to do. Student council wanted to change that. A lot of schools in the country utilize open campus. It was super-common in the ’70s and ’80s, and is now gaining popularity again.”

The planning phase of open campus required extensive collaboration between the administration and student council members. Owen said, “A big question was how kids were going to leave. Was signing out going to put too much weight on [administative assistant Inez Montanile] But after the pilot week at the end of last year, we saw it actually worked pretty well.”

Seniors Mackenzie Condon, Katie Morse, Ian Trance, and Alley Estrella also played an important role in the effort. “They were instrumental in planning the proposition and implementing it,” Owen said. “Without them, it would have been impossible to do it.”

Principal Sara Dingledy supports open campus on the principle of it incentivizing good behavior. She said, “Our fear of what kids are out doing in the world shouldn’t stop us from allowing kids to see what it’s like to sleep in till nine o’clock.”

While no tweaks to the policy itself have been made, Ms. Dingledy has pulled open campus away from a small number of kids. She said, “If someone has abused the privilege, we will put them back on a study-hall roster and revisit it second quarter, using their academic standing and behavior record to evaluate whether they should be back in good standing.”

Julie Meader, an administrative support, is responsible for checking open-campus students in and out. “The only thing that I’m finding is that students staying on campus aren’t necessarily coming to check in and say, ‘Hey, I’m just over at the library,’ or, ‘Hey, I’ll be in the cafeteria.’ If there was ever a fire, I would need to know where those students are,” she said.
Student Hollis Kelly waves to grab Ms. Meader’s attention as he checks in at the front desk, and she gives him an “All set,” taking his attendance on her computer. Looking rested, he has arrived a couple of minutes early for his first class of the day.

Sophie Combra has open campus H block, which falls first or last on most days. “Open campus makes my mornings easier, especially because I play sports,” she said. “If I’m on a late boat the night before, or just tired, I can catch up on my sleep or get my work done in the morning before class. I also like that we can’t leave in the middle of the day, because it forces me to get my work done.”

Varsity hockey captain Ian Trance takes full advantage of open campus. “I’ve found the days when I have it to be much more enjoyable,” he said. “I can either sleep in or go get breakfast. Sometimes if I have it at the end of the day, I’ll go over to the rink with friends and just hang out and do homework. I grew up in the rink, so it’s a comfortable spot for me to be.”

Ms. Dingledy said, “I sense more positivity, which is also attributed to the students themselves. The senior class is a go-getter one, with lots of goals. My relationship with these kids is a little less about me enforcing rules and more about creating a dialogue of how we can work to improve the school.”

“In real life, privileges are earned and privileges are taken away. It’s not just freedom, it’s freedom with accountability,” Owen said.