Should Byram Hills be an Open Campus?

By Kallie Hoffman

The safety and welfare of Byram Hills students will always be our top priority, but if we can promote autonomy among the student population without compromising security, is that not a worthy pursuit? The school day is long and often hard, with an infinite amount of academic and social pressure. Students are often looking for a release, whether it be sports, theater, photography, or other activities that divert their attention away from the anxieties related to scholastic performance. This mental fatigue can take its toll on young adults, and by the end of the day, they are desperate to leave the school building. This overwhelming urge makes freedom desired by all students. It has also forced school districts to contemplate the option of allowing individuals to leave the school environment during their lunch or free period. At Byram Hills High School, the administration has voted to restrict students from exiting the building, but in doing so, they are denying students of the benefits derived from having an open campus.

Teenagers across the United States are feeling high levels of stress that negatively affect every aspect of their lives. Freshman Jordyn Jacobson says, “It is necessary for me to receive a good grade at school, so I often find myself studying throughout my entire lunch period.” If young adults are becoming absorbed with anxiety, it is the school’s responsibility to get a better handle on the situation and discover a solution to the pertinent problem. Allowing people to go outside and do something entertaining with their time is an obtainable goal. Junior Kylie Roslin believes that “permitting students to leave the building is a beneficial way to relieve stress levels throughout the entire building. This movement will allow Byram teenagers to have a small break in their jammed schedules.”
When students are allowed to leave the campus, they can stretch their legs and avoid being confined to a crowded and loud room. In the spring especially, the sweltering and congested building can be unhealthy for students’ health, and it can contribute to their stress levels. Junior Jack Frischman promises that “if I were to leave, I would go to a normal room temperature facility and perhaps engage myself in a productive activity.” The privilege of being able to leave campus and escape the struggles faced at school will not only produce well-adjusted adolescents, but it will help them learn the responsibility of their time. They will learn not to abuse this advantage because there will be a punishment for their actions; furthermore, if they are wise, they can use this opportunity to pursue independent research projects, visit nearby museums and art galleries, interact with people other than their teachers and peers, and obtain a wider variety of choices for their lunch.
The United States of America is a country that prides itself on the efforts taken to improve the health of its children. This starts by ensuring students have availability to nutritious, well-balanced meals. Despite the improvements made to school cafeterias, many students still refuse to eat the foods served because they do not approve of the taste. Freshman Abby Glickman has learned to manage her gluten sensitivity, but she finds that “a limited menu can be difficult for students with food allergies or special dietary requirements.” By allowing students to venture off campus, they can diversify their lunch options and not have to attend class with empty stomachs.

Leaving the school environment is a right, and if people want their freedom, they must be held accountable for their actions. In order to obtain the privilege of an open campus, the district can set a grade point average requirement, a no-tolerance truancy policy, an age limit, and approval from a parent. The opportunity to leave the campus during the school day should be a right, not a privilege; if approved, it can serve to improve a student’s independence and self-worth