Allow Western Wayne Students to Carry a Backpack On Their Person

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As of August 16th, 2019, The Western Wayne High School Administration has implemented a new policy which will prohibit students from carrying their bookbags or backpacks on their person while in the hallway. As a student body, we disagree with the institution of this change, and recognize that it is bound to cause several problems for staff and administration as well. We ask for our School Board and Administration to take into account the issues highlighted here and consider making changes to or repealing the policy. Please sign this petition in order to bring it to the attention of our School Board and Administration.

There are several problems with the implementation of a policy prohibiting the carrying of bookbags or backpacks. To begin, the alternative is extremely inconvenient to students, and may in turn cause issues with attendance. Though the system of exchanging books and supplies may work (though not seamlessly) in the Middle School, the High School is extremely different. Not only are the High School lockers much smaller than those in the Middle School (and please keep in mind that students will now be storing a sizeable bag, a winter coat, gym clothes and shoes, and large class materials [such as poster boards] inside of their lockers, when these items could previously be carried on their person), but the High School is much larger and the classrooms are more widely dispersed. It is often already difficult to make it to class on time, as many schedules include classes located on opposite sides of the building (unlike in the Middle School, where each hallway was assigned to each grade). Adding an extra stop to retrieve books will only create more students to be reprimanded for continual tardiness, in turn creating problems for teachers and other staff members and impacting the quality of our education.

The hallways in the High School are also much narrower than those in the Middle School, and the flow of traffic in the hallways does not stop in between periods, meaning it will be very difficult to unlock a locker and kneel or bend down to retrieve books while the hallways are full. Though it would be appreciated, any extra time given to students in between periods would be cancelled out because of the inevitable blockage in the hallways caused by students retrieving class materials.

Having to retrieve books in between periods will also cause widespread unorganization and unpreparedness throughout the High School. As many students' schedules drastically change from day to day due to half credit courses such as gym and electives, it is difficult to remember and determine which materials a student needs for which class. It is undeniably better to be overprepared than to be underprepared, and thus more reasonable to be able to carry all of our class materials at once.

However, carrying all of our books by hand is unrealistic. Keeping our student athletes in mind, the strain placed on the forearms and lower back by carrying textbooks by hand is more than would be caused by carrying a backpack. It is also much more likely for books to be dropped if they are carried by hand, causing more collisions to occur in the halls, and more time to be wasted in between periods.

While we strongly stand behind the points made above, we also understand the possible reasoning behind this new policy, but do not believe that the steps taken will be effective enough to stop the usage or dealing of drugs or drug paraphernalia or the possibility of a weapon entering the High School. At the same time, we absolutely agree that these issues are critical and need a solution, so we propose several alternatives:

In regards to illegal substances:
- Routine bag checks (potential use of canines).
- Routine locker checks (potential use of canines).
- Routine vehicle checks (potential use of canines).
- Bathroom monitors.
- Increased severity of the punishment for possession of illegal substances.

In regards to weapons:
- Installation of metal detectors at building entrances.
- Routine locker checks
- Routine bag checks
- Routine car checks

With thought, we are sure the School Board and Administration, along with the help of the student body, will be able to create a solution that will be reasonable for all parties. In all honesty, the removal of the privilege to carry bookbags or backpacks will simply not solve the issues at hand, as bookbags and backpacks are not the root of the problems, and truly did not facilitate the problems to begin with. Rather, we would prefer the establishment of more risk-awareness programs, and more serious reprimandments for those who are caught. We would also recommend more active shooter drills to be performed throughout the year, and for lockdown drills to be taken more seriously and to be unannounced occurrences that neither students nor teachers are alerted of beforehand. These solutions, we find, would be more effective and less detrimental to our experience and education at Western Wayne High School.

To close, the students of Western Wayne High School are asking for the School Board and Administration to repeal or make changes to the recent (8/16/2019) update to the student handbook regarding the storage of bookbags or backpacks during the school day. This new policy is sure to inconvenience both students and teachers alike, which is why it would be most sensible to either revert back to the policy previously enforced, or to make changes which would meet the standard of safety desired and that were intended to be met (though, in our opinion, not the most effectively) with the implementation of the new policy.