The bell rings at 2:03 PM. You’re in Mr. Larson’s class, the furthest room from the front of the school. You have 5 minutes to make it to your car and drive out of the lot before you’re stuck in line behind the parade of buses that leaves at precisely 2:08 PM. To make matters worse, parents picking up their students are clogging up the lot. For the upperclassman that drive themselves to school, this is their reality every day.
Time is not the only issue of the lot. Safety is a huge concern. When students are rushing to ‘beat the buses,’ they are prone to speed and drive recklessly. Even parents cannot safely navigate the parking lot. Margo Budde, a junior who drives to school said, “On the first day of school, I was turning out of the main lot and a parent entering the lot zoomed toward me and turned into the wrong lane. I was almost hit.”
The parents making these mistakes are usually unfamiliar with the layout of the parking lot. Aaron Avery, the Dean of Discipline who’s in charge of parking at WBHS and self titled ‘Parking Tsar,’ has the answers. He said, “Initially, at the end of the school day, we use both lanes…in the lot.” Therefore, parents cannot use either of the two lanes in the main parking when they enter from the light on Orchard Lake Road. Instead, they must use the south entrance or turn left into the athletic lot by the football field, not right into the main lot.
After-school is the most hectic time in the parking lot since most of the student body is quickly leaving at once. In the morning, before class begins at 7:10 AM, students trickle into the parking lot between 6:30 AM to 7:00 AM. There is still traffic but it is much less chaotic than in the afternoon. Although, there is also a specific system for the mornings. Avery said, “If you’re coming in from the south entrance, you want to take a left in the lot, and drop your kids off.” He also said that when you drive though the entrance at the light on Orchard Lake Road, “they have to take a right into the main lot. Then loop around the back of the lot.” Once they go around the lot and get in line, the cars from both entrances will be headed in the same direction. The system can be tricky. In the beginning of the school year, there is a learning curve for the students with their first parking pass and the parents of new students. However, even once the parking lot has been figured out, there are still accidents.
Gabby Matthews, a junior this school year, experienced an incident in the parking lot. She said, “It was the day of midterms freshman year and I was walking from my sister’s [parked] car to go into the school in the morning. I was walking at an angle and I hear a beep. Then a person hit me with their car.” Matthews fortunately suffered no injuries. At first, she thought the driver was a student. When they rolled down their window to apologize, she saw that “It was an old man.” Even adults, who should have figured out the system of the lot by second semester, are causing accidents. This indicates a more serious issue. The drivers may not be the problem, it could be the poor system of the parking lot.
Patrick Watson, the principal at WBHS, has acknowledged this issue. He said, “It [the parking lot] can definitely be improved. It needs to be improved. We don’t have the staff to stand out there to enforce where people can go for the drop off.” The only thing standing in the way of parking lot renovations is money. None of the bond money is going toward parking lot improvements. Although, Watson has a fundraising idea that would improve the lot. His plan is, “If you’re a senior, as part of a senior fundraiser for your class, instead of paying $100 for a parking permit, you would pay $200 and get to paint your parking spot, any spot you want…then you have a reserved parking spot.” This would not involve any major changes to the lot but it is a step in the right direction. Watson is hoping that the plan will be approved for next year.
Regardless if any changes are made, it is important for all drivers in the lot to follow the layout and drive carefully.