“I think it’s nice to have a chance to get off campus to clear your head from the school environment. Junior year is the first time a lot of people have cars, which increases our want to leave. As juniors, the school should have an idea of the type of students we are, so having us wait until second semester seems unnecessary,” stated Becca Shay (‘19).
As the current class of juniors begin to settle into their classes and manage their workload, they also have to adjust and accommodate to the new changes made at ORHS. A significant change that has sparked conversation are the new rules for junior privilege.
Oyster River is one of few schools which allows juniors and seniors to leave during their free periods. It is required for every student who applies for the privilege to have a form filled out. The form requires having three teacher sources who recommend you for junior/senior privilege, a parent/guardian signature, and the approval of administration. For seniors, after the first two weeks of the school year, they’re allowed to leave during their free period as long as they had turned in the form. For juniors, it is a little more complicated.
In years past, seniors were allowed to obtain the privilege of leaving during their free period at the start of the school year. The juniors had to wait until a quarter passed to have that privilege. This year, the administration has extended the waiting period for junior privilege until second semester.
The junior class is especially large this year, which means that more people are under the school’s liability when they leave campus. “It’s becoming more and more difficult to manage just because of the pure numbers of students that are requesting it. We need more time… so we can get a handle on it. We also want to ensure that students have enough time in the school year to make sure they’re on track with their courses,” explained Mike McCann, the ORHS Dean of Students. Although the reasoning behind extending the waiting time for the privilege is valid, it still caused an uproar from the junior class.
Administration was under high pressure to manage everyone applying for junior-senior privilege : they considered not having the privilege available to juniors at all. The majority of high schools in our area only allow seniors to leave during their free periods. The administration was aware that taking away the privilege from juniors would cause conflict, so they found a way to accommodate for the students and themselves, extending the waiting time for junior privilege to after first semester.
Juniors with A and G period free are still able to leave come the start of the school year. Any free period in between is where it gets tricky. Ian Miles (‘19), has just begun his junior year and is disappointed that he is required to wait an extra quarter for open campus this year. “Junior privilege was one of the things I was looking forward to as a junior. I was excited to have that added freedom,” Miles stated. This came to be the conclusion for many students like Miles, being excited for having that privilege as a junior, then finding out they had to wait an extra quarter compared to last year.
Other students, such as Shay, were luckier with the situation. “The junior privilege change doesn’t affect me at the moment because I have G free, but I would be extremely frustrated if this wasn’t the case for me,” Shay expressed. She explained her reasoning behind the excitement and desire to leave for junior privilege, and it was similar to how her classmates viewed it : “I think it’s nice to have a chance to get off campus to clear your head from the school environment. As juniors, the school should already have an idea of the type of students we are, so having us wait until second semester seems unnecessary.”
Last year, there was a problem with people finding ways to cheat the system of waiting to use junior privilege. During the first quarter of the school year, juniors with free periods would call their parents to be dismissed for a made up reason. This allowed the students to leave without necessarily having to wait for the privilege to become available. The administration soon caught on to this, and cracked down on students who were being dismissed for unauthorized reasons.“We can’t have people getting dismissed just because they want to be free. They’ll have to go through the process and if it’s legitimate they can leave, and if it’s not then we’ll have a talk with parents and try to make sure they understand why we’re doing this,” explained McCann. If a few people begin to misuse the privilege, than everyone will have to face the repercussions.
For students who are feeling concerned and unhappy with having to wait for junior privilege, there is an effective way to speak up about it. Some students have already begun conversing with one another, and finding a common point of view on the situation to explain to administration. Administration wants people to realize that they’re open to suggestions.
“I think if we have students who come to us and express their voice, opinion, rational, and even some suggestions we’re open to that. We want to listen and talk, so both sides understand the goal, purpose and the desire on the other side,” conveyed Mark Milliken, assistant principal of ORHS. Milliken strongly expressed that this year is the year of the effective communicator, and the school encourages you and your peers to communicate in a mature manner if you’re unhappy with a situation.