Parking lot barriers changed to improve safety

Alternative Copy Story by Mya Lysne

The safety of students has always been administration’s number one priority. Stillwater Area High School started its attempt on increasing safety by rearranging the parking configuration for the safety of students, because many students are in a rush to leave school. This winter, with many freshman being driven to school by their parents and upperclassmen still driving themselves, it has increased the amount of traffic in the lot causing safety issues.

In prior years, SAHS did not have as many students as it does with the new addition of 9th graders. The majority of students drive themselves or carpool to school when they can. But freshman are just at the age of getting their permits, so parents drive them or they take the bus to school. The parking lot this year has been a lot more packed than previous years with the amount of students. Many students have complained about the limited access in and out of the lot.

I think it’s making it harder for students to find parking spaces, which is pretty hard considering how fast our parking lot fills up, especially in the mornings. It just makes it ten times longer to get out of school because there’s less ways to get out.”

— Lola Wallace

Since Stillwater Area High School has opened up to freshman, traffic has gotten worse. A majority of freshman are too young to drive and many sophomores still inexperienced with driving in a cramped lot. A school of almost 3,000 students offers a big parking lot, but only three access points, of which one is blocked for busses. Inexperienced drivers raise safety concerns with administration worried about reckless driving.

“Everybody is just cutting in front of everybody and with the addition of 9th graders they all feel the need to get a ride from mom to and from school. We sit there for actually thirty minutes before you actually get out of the lot, then when it’s finally your turn you never know is somebody is just going to cut in front of you and get in a T-bone,” junior Hunter Kahn said.

If the school had another access point to the lot it would help with traffic, but there would need to be approval by the city, school board and many other people. The main entrance continues to the circle where many students are constantly crossing, making this unsafe for kids to even get into school. The administration is aware of the issue and has been trying to help with blocking off parts of the lot for students to cross.

“I think it’s making it harder for students to find parking spaces, which is pretty hard considering how fast our parking lot fills up, especially in the mornings. It just makes it ten times longer to get out of school because there’s less ways to get out,” junior Lola Wallace said.

The administration, primarily Principal Rob Bach and Assistant Principal Shelly Phernetton, have been figuring out ways to make the lot safer. The two have met and discussed the problem and decided to bring in students. A few AP Engineering students have been helping to design ideas of how they could make the lot safer. SAHS traffic control has not changed over the years even with the new addition of the Pony Athletic Center (PAC).

The young minds of students bring creative ideas, ranging from building a bridge all the way down to simple speed bumps. The project’s first attempt was to block off parts of the lot to control traffic but one section has not helped much with many students entering through the art doors.

“Most people are relatively new drivers within a year or two and we have to be considerate of their needs in terms of safety. There has been some accidents in the lot, thankfully mostly fender benders but that’s frustrating to deal with. Adults have insurance but students often are working hard for their money and it’s not what you want to spend it on. Let’s see what we can do to help out” Assistant Principal Shelly Phernetton said.

The hope is to ensure students the simple safety of getting from their car into school safely. This is the first time the administration has involved students and is a wonderful opportunity for the students to show their talent. Although there are many ideas floating through the air, nothing is finalized. The process is much more complicated than many students think, it takes a long chain of approval for major actions to be made. The administration can ensure that they are doing what they can to help speed up traffic in the school parking lot. The parking barriers have been removed, but may be placed in different areas in the lot in hopes of controlling traffic better. SAHS is one of the oldest schools in Minnesota but it is still growing and with growth comes change over time.