So many students, so little parking. A situation facing Oyster River High School students and disrupting the traditions of the past.
This year, all students are back in school and taking on new challenges. One of these challenges is the lack of parking spots. Oyster River High School has four parking lots where students typically park: Upper Senior lot, Lower Senior lot (also known as the Athletic Parking lot), Tennis Courts, and the Junior Parking lot. While this may seem like a number of lots, many are smaller and some are used for Oyster River Middle School staff due to construction. Because of this, juniors have started parking up in the senior lot, which is upsetting many seniors.
While the seniors have claimed their lots and assigned themselves unassigned parking spaces this is actually not enforced by the school, only by the students. Mark Milliken, Oyster River High School’s Vice Principal, has heard about what each lot is called, but says, “I’ve heard people call it [the senior lot], but we’ve never designated lots for certain classes… it’s been called the senior lot since I’ve been here, [but] it’s never been designated a senior lot.”
Milliken also goes on to discuss that because of the lack of parking, having lots for different classes would actually be impossible to enforce. “We have so limited space and so many people want to park [in the school lots] that it’s too difficult to create a lot for seniors only.”
Even though they’re unofficial lots, some seniors are still upset with juniors parking there. Avel Durant (‘22) has seen the number of juniors parked in the Upper Senior lot and has become very upset by this. “It’s called ‘senior lot’ for a reason. If you’re a junior, you should not be parking up there.” But is this what seniors are upset with, or are there other factors as well?
With no designated lots comes no designated spots, as well. All students are free to park in any spot and are not conformed to one spot, which has been done in the past. However, as students have gotten later into the year, both juniors and seniors have come to have typical spots they park in everyday. Carmela Williams (‘22) does not get upset when juniors are parking in the senior lot, but does not want the spot she parks in every day to be taken. “The biggest thing that gets me upset is when people don’t park in the same spot. I feel like everyone has their designated spots, but [it’s frustrating] when juniors are taking people’s designated spots.”
With all the frustration around the parking lots, the juniors who have parked in the Upper Senior lot have really not heard anything about parking up there and why it is wrong. Reed Larson-Dennen (‘23) has been driving to school since sophomore year because he had returned to in-person learning last year. When Larson-Dennen started driving to school, he noticed “that most of the sophomores would park in the Tennis Courts.”
Now as a junior, Larson-Dennen has started parking in Upper Senior. Despite the apparent anger from seniors however, Larson-Dennen has not heard anything from the seniors when parking in the lot saying, “personally, I’ve had no one come up to me ever and say anything. I know that some seniors are mad at other seniors for taking their spots.”
What about the reverse situation of seniors parking in what is normally considered the junior lot? Audrey Sigmon (‘23), has just started driving to school this year and always parks in the junior lot. She has recognized the aggravation that seniors feel when not having their lot respected. However, Sigmon does not feel annoyed when seniors park in the junior lot. She says, “I don’t feel upset because it’s their choice and they should be able to park anywhere.” What Sigmon believes is that the seniors should have dominion over the parking situation as a certain seniority.
So who is really upset by this issue and how can it be tackled? As the school year progresses, the conversation about the lots has become less and less common. Is this because more people are understanding the unwritten rules are becoming more understood by students as they come to the high school, or because people are recognizing that the lots will never be fully sanctioned to just one grade? In the future, perhaps more diverse parking lots will be seen.