Escape into the drama of a closed campus
By Lisee Crayton, Reporter
Many students are familiar with the temptations of leaving school during the day. Whether an off-campus adventure is induced by boredom, need for coffee, or simply wanting a break; all of these romps around the island must come to an end.
Students might not be aware that VHS has had a closed campus for several years. In the past, sneaking off campus has been fairly simple and inconsequential. That ended in recent months, when the administration began to crack down on students who left during the school day.
“After taking some feedback from staff around what’s going well, and more importantly, what needs to be improved on, one of the larger issues identified was a concern around students moving around and beyond campus during times when one might reasonably expect they are in class,” vice principal John Erickson said.
The new enforcement of past-existing rules has caused protest and anger, with many students not understanding why they can’t go off campus, unaware of the administration’s responsibility to keep students monitored and safe.
“There’s this doctrine called ‘in loco parentis,’ and it explains the duty and authority that schools have for acting in place of parents during the course of the school day. What we’re working to do is try to get everyone to be in class and following the school rules,” Erickson said.
Of course, not all students follow these rules. Most students have no problem with staying on campus for the day, but for some students, the temptations of leaving are too great to overcome.
Anonymous students reported that they used to leave campus quite frequently, often more than four times a week.
The reinforcements have resulted in a decrease in off-campus adventures, but have not completely eliminated them. When asked how often these students leave campus now, they reported to leave once or twice every week, in search of lunch.
“I feel the need to leave campus because the school food is not filling enough,” one student said.
These students were made aware of the legal liability that is created when leaving campus, but didn’t believe it to be that big of a deal.
“Of course there is legal liability, but I’m going to leave campus anyway,” one student said.
Many students argue that leaving campus has never been a problem before. Erickson explains, however, that the differences between this year and the past few years are complex and a major contributor to the enforcement of these rules.
“The last two years of school have been extraordinary. Comparing what is happening when we have the resources and bandwidth to support the enforcement of school rules to what’s happened [in the past] is like comparing apples and oranges,” Erickson said.
Due diligence and hard work from staff make it clear that these enforcements are here to last. The school is grateful for all aid they have gotten from staff, especially Mike Kirk.
“We’ve been really lucky to get some extra help from Fire Chief and retired Vashon administrator Mike Kirk. He has been able to be present in ‘hot spots’ during break and lunches to help make sure that important school safety rules are being enforced,” Erickson said.
Keeping students safe at school is the number one priority for staff. Off-campus restrictions are just one part of the complex plan to keep students secure.
“It’s less about what we’re trying to prevent, and more about the expectation that students are in class and focused on what’s most important— their learning and safety,” Erickson said.