Student passes required to leave at lunch

Administration continues to increase security efforts for campus safety.


Olivia Buccieri/Talon

Student drivers are now being cared before they leave campus to assure safety.

Campus supervisors and the administrative team thoroughly checked off-campus passes and student identification cards as students were returning from lunch Oct. 17. While it is normal for IDs and passes to be checked leaving campus, they are not typically checked when returning.

A senior’s off-campus pass and a junior’s off-campus pass have the same results — to leave the Oak Park High School campus at lunch; however, they differ in their restrictions. For instance, a junior can only use an off-campus pass on the days that they are assigned. If a junior has a free fifth period, they cannot use their pass on an even day before sixth period.

Junior Luka Sarac was one of the juniors that was stopped returning to campus Oct. 18. Since he has a free sixth period, he was able to show his pass to leave. However, since it was an odd day, Sarac was not supposed to leave campus. Sarac said the juniors that left campus were assigned trash pick-up.

“It doesn’t make sense to me because most everyone in high school is responsible and should be allowed to leave campus if they want to,” Sarac wrote to the Talon. “It seems to me Oak Park is unnecessarily strict about leaving campus.”

Principal Kevin Buchanan mentioned that the reason behind why only seniors and those juniors with free periods are allowed to leave campus is for safety purposes.

“It’s dangerous to have a lot of students driving around during a short period of time, all trying to leave campus and come back at the same time,” Buchanan said. “Juniors have not had their licenses for very long.”

There were reported accidents in the high school’s past. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, crash risk is particularly high during the first months of being licensed. Compared with 18-19 year olds, the fatal crash rate is nearly twice as high for 16-17 year olds.

“Kids driving kids when they’re not supposed to and then speeding in the neighborhood and racing back from wherever it is they had lunch and all the parking — I think at the time it was decided that it wasn’t good for the school or the community, and that was when the school was much smaller,” Buchanan said.

According to school counselor Randall McLelland, this campus rule has been in place since the previous principal, Lynn McCormick, created it for safety purposes.

“Kids were overwhelmingly opposed to it,” McLelland said. “But because she got the Board [of Education]’s and the parents’ approval, she went ahead and moved forward with it.”

There was a line towards the end of lunch on Oct. 18 from the top of the parking lot, by the basketball cages, all the way to the bottom of sophomore circle, the back exit of the driveway, due to each car being stopped and checked if individuals coming back from lunch were allowed to leave in the first place.

“This is just check for everybody’s IDs to make sure it’s legit, because the school and the Board [of Education] are responsible for anybody that goes off campus,” campus supervisor Martin Kilner said. “During the school hours, the school is responsible. If they get out without a proper pass or permit, [the school] will be responsible since it happened.”

Campus supervisors are now posted at both of the main exits on campus for the duration of lunch.

“Most of the kids are 98 percent truthful and no problems,” Kilner said. “Every now and again, a kid will sneak through or try and hide in the back of a car, but it’s nothing that hasn’t gone on for quite a few years. Now, we’re having to stay longer because we’ve had people escaping.”

Since Kilner began holding a writing pad in his hand while carding students, he’s only had to write down two names. When Buchanan and Assistant Principal Jason Meskis came by Oct. 17 to check in on the process, Kilner told them that his pad encouraged students to be vigilant about bringing IDs.

“It just worked out great,” Kilner said. “The system is logical, it’s common sense.”

Many seniors are appreciative that the administration is becoming more stringent with the rule on who can and who cannot leave during lunch.

“Personally, I like it,” senior Alissa Abrams said. “As a junior, I didn’t start going off campus at lunch until second semester. People need to chill with going off first [semester.]”

Senior Samantha Heller mentioned that it is better “to enforce a rule than to ignore it.”

“It is a rule, they should follow it,” Heller said. “Either get rid of it or actually enforce it.”