Parking Lot Opens Up

Admin starts allowing approved sophomores to drive to school

The parking lot during a school day

Sasha Smith

The parking lot during a school day

Sasha Smith, Staff Reporter

Parking at school has been a source of tension for many students; parking passes, long lines, aggressive drivers, and more are all frustrations many car-owning students face. The crowded parking lot results in drivers being careful as everyone rushes to their cars once the bell rings. But letting students drive their own cars to school has many advantages, buses are less full, less parents need to drop off their kids, and teenagers are able to practice driving. Yet, with so many students filling up the parking lot, the school needed a way to both limit the number of students that parked, and a way to make money. The solution came in the form of parking passes.

However, parking passes were mostly only available to juniors and seniors, most eligible for a driver’s license, despite some sophomores being 16 too. This means many sophomores have their own car, and drivers license, but aren’t allowed to buy a parking pass. Junior Juan Bedoya had this problem last year, he was old enough to drive, and owned his own car, but still got to school with the help of his parents, peers, or buses.

“It was really frustrating having everything I needed, like my license and my own car, but still couldn’t be allowed to park at school,” Bedoya said. “And it’s worse when I think about all the time and effort I put into practicing for the [drivers license] test, and saving up to get a car.”

As a result of this, some sophomores are unmotivated to get their license or get a car as soon as they turn 16. These students think it could seem pointless to work for something that you can’t use. Sophomore Alie Simmons wasn’t in any rush to go take her test, even though she turned 16 in August.

“I was just kind of disappointed when I learned I couldn’t get my own parking pass even though I got my license,” Simmons said. “It kind of made the whole ‘learning to drive’ experience less fun.”

The school’s decision to only allow juniors and seniors to purchase parking passes has sparked a debate among students and parents. Senior Anna Aslin argues that it is necessary for safety reasons, as younger and less experienced drivers could pose a risk to themselves and others on the road.

“I think it’s a good idea to only allow upperclassmen to have parking passes,” Aslin said. “I remember when I was a sophomore and I didn’t feel completely comfortable behind the wheel. It’s better to have only more experienced drivers.”

Others, however, believe that this policy is unfair and that sophomores should be given the opportunity to gain experience by driving to school. Sophomore Alex Moresi turned 16 in September, and saved up enough money to buy a car.

“I don’t think it’s right to take away the chance to drive to school and get more practice,” Moresi said. “We all have to start somewhere and learn from our mistakes. That’s how we become better drivers.”

Nevertheless, allowing sophomores to buy parking passes wouldn’t have a massive impact, as only a minority have a license and a car, and it’s not guaranteed that they would all buy one. Sophomore Sarah Fields agrees with this argument, as she doesn’t think that all sophomores would buy a colt pass.

“I think that when I turn sixteen, if I had a car I don’t know if I would get one,” Fields said. “I think it’s up to each person whether they wanna drive here.”

According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Service, teenage drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident due to their lack of experience. Specifically, ages 16-17 are the most likely, which ranges from sophomores to seniors.

“The crash rate of drivers ages 16-17 years was nearly double that of drivers ages 18-19 and approximately 4.5 times that of drivers ages 30-39, 40-49, and 50-59,” AAA said.

Despite the valid points made by both sides of the argument, it is clear that finding a solution to this issue will not be easy. Driving Instructor Rachel Kim believes that teens should get practice whenever they can.

“I think it’s important for the school to find a way to allow sophomores to gain more driving experience,” Kim said. “By restricting parking passes to the older kids, the school may be depriving sophomores of the opportunity to practice and improve their skills.”

Recently Principal Tim McCarthy has opened up parking pass applications to sophomores. They must go through an approval process, and if approved, must pay a prorated price.