Staff Ed: Open Campus

Globe Staff

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Students cherish open campus. It provides a sense of freedom, allowing students easy access to leave the restricting boundaries of school for things such as a quick stroll to lunch. This tradition is Clayton’s trademark, a way to help tie the community together with its students. Businesses in downtown Clayton welcome the high school students as they leave campus to grab a quick bite. By having this connection, the open campus allows a deeper bond and involvement with the community.

Yet some Clayton parents fear open campus. They question the integrity behind their children, believing that their kids are much more interested in leaving campus to engage in illegal activities, such as alcohol and drug use.

Parents worry for the safety of their children. Those same kids crave that independence beyond the doors of CHS. But the debate behind holding open campus stems beyond these superficial ideas. While these may seem important, the open campus holds more meaning than this. In fact, the open campus reflects the image CHS holds for its students and what its administration expects from its students.

Educate. Inspire. Empower. This is Clayton High School’s own tagline, held with heads high and school pride. Yet, the refusal of open campus to its students is contradictory to its statement. How can students be empowered if we are not granted the opportunity to even voice our own opinions and expressions? The allowance of open campus is a declaration by the school district, placing its trust in its students to be the upstanding people of character they were raised to be.

The idea of trust is empowering to students. It holds us to our actions, as young adults, as we prepare to enter college and society beyond. Without this sense of trust, the action fosters an environment where students are inefficient beings, while administrative members and teachers are unable to find trust and belief in their students, which creates a cold, isolated and exclusive environment, going against Clayton’s belief on inclusiveness. To refuse open campus suggests that we are untrustworthy, irresponsible and incapable of being mature adults, contrary to the values that we were raised to by the parents worrying over our safety.

How convenient it must be for some Clayton parents to influence the environment of the high school, a building they lack the personal connection with. High school is the student’s sanctuary, not the parent’s. This is where we, as rising members of society, spend the majority of our day. To have an external force dictating what we can and cannot do is not only restraining, but offensive and belittling. By refusing open campus for us, as young adults, Clayton parents are still babying and hovering over their kids. This action assumes that we, as students, require the influence of parents in our daily lives. From the overprotective nature of parents, Clayton students will grow as naive, overshadowed young adults, unprepared for the reality of the world. Every person is held responsible and accountable for their actions, not held in a little, preventative bubble.

The high school administration holds great pride in the student body. We are the rising future, the legacy of Clayton. By entrusting us with open campus, this speaks beyond our desires to walk to Chipotle for lunch. This speaks of the independence and free will that the administration grants to us. This empowers us as we recognize that all of our actions have direct consequences. Whether or not we abuse this freedom speaks to the character of who we are. We could be a disappointment, going against the values of Clayton, while we are held for our foolish actions. Or we could prove of our capability to be mature, independent adults, fit to make our own decisions without the need of a hovering presence to overwatch us.

Ultimately, students who take advantage of open campus as a way to use drugs may be suffering and require help rather than punishment. The community should aim to provide aid to those who need it. But there should be no restrictions and limitations placed on the high school community as a whole, as these struggling children are not representative of the CHS student body. We are looking forwards to the future, where the world needs more independent, free-thinking leaders. By granting us this trust that has been a legacy of Clayton’s, the high school can continue its main mission all along, by empowering its students.

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