School safety is one of the top priorities of the security guards here at PHS.
According to security personnel Jim Jenkins, the increase in the number of students not following school campus rules has made safety a bigger concern.
“The number of students leaving campus usually increases in the spring when the weather gets nicer and self-control fades. It is not that we [administration and security] have been stricter on students, it is that more students have failed to follow the rules,” Jenkins said.
When it comes to students following the school rules, Jenkins states that disobedience has become more prevalent this year than in the past.
“There seems to be more students wanting to disobey the rules. It is simply not necessary to leave campus during school hours. We have been seeing more students leaving campus during school hours this year than we have in the past. It is the grapevine; one student leaves campus and gets away with it, then other students start trying to do the same thing,” Jenkins said.
According to Principal David Sunich, administration has attempted to tackle the issue of students leaving campus during lunch through a more proactive method.
“We have asked our security guards to be proactive and be out there to actually prevent it from happening rather than just catching kids when they get back. We are trying to be more visible to try and discourage more kids from leaving. Also, we have given the security guards to issue the detentions themselves rather than just sending all the kids to the office to be dealt with by the administration,” Sunich said.
Sunich expresses hope that more students will become discouraged from leaving campus as a result of the more proactive procedures.
“Our hope is just by the visibility and being more proactive with security, that that will discourage kids from leaving campus and breaking that rule,” Sunich said.
Jenkins addresses some of the more negative consequences that arise when students break the rules and leave campus during school hours.
“We are neighbors in a community like this. It is all about being a good neighbor. Students, when they leave campus during lunch, may break traffic laws when they are trying to hurry to go get something to eat and come back,” Jenkins said. “PHS gets complaints from the people living in the community about things like speeding, loud noises, students blaring music in their cars and littering around the streets.”
Even with the increase in number of students leaving campus at lunch, Sunich reveals that a majority of those students are just attempting to go to Thr3e.
“The majority of students are just leaving campus to go to Thr3e or out to the parking lots. It is not one of our biggest safety concerns right now but it is something we have been trying to address more and have kids just doing a better job of managing themselves and recognizing that it is a rule that needs to be followed and not have to play a game of ‘can I sneak away?’ In the grand scheme of things, I think it is something we have a pretty good handle on,” Sunich said.
Though it may seem absurd to some kids, not being allowed to leave campus even to cross the street to Thr3e has serious reasons behind why it is prohibited to do so.
“It is a school district policy that high school campuses are closed campuses which means that kids are not allowed to just come and go. The main reason behind that is just a safety concern due to there not being supervision when that happens,” Sunich said. “It seems silly because Thr3e is close but if you allow kids to go to Thr3e then why do we not just allow them to go around the corner? Or if we just let them go around the corner, why could we not allow them to go down the street to Anthem? It just keeps going on and on so there has to be some kind of line where the answer is just ‘no.’”
Aside from students leaving to go to Thr3e, Jenkins says that there has also been an incline in the number of students leaving to go to the parking lots.
“There has also been an increase in the number of students leaving to go out to their cars. There will be about five to seven kids who leave all at one time and they will cut behind the school and across the streets to get to their cars,” Jenkins said.
According to Sunich, the potential dangers that go along with students leaving campus to go out to the parking lots unsupervised have created a necessity for stricter off-campus rules.
“There have been instances where students have left campus to go into the neighborhoods to do things they should not be and our concern there is just that there are transient people who wonder around in the alleys and neighborhoods around here and could be potentially harmful and we would not want the students to encounter any of them,” Sunich said.
Jenkins states that transient people around the neighborhoods and PHS campus are not an uncommon occurrence throughout the day.
“There are a lot of people who come through on our campus that do not belong here. There will be people who sleep over by the Church Across the Street and they keep coming in all day long,” Jenkins said.
Though some students may feel that leaving campus during school hours is not a huge issue, Jenkins reveals that there are sometimes more dangers outside of school than students may first realize.
“Sometimes past students will even come back and try to sleep on campus or they may try to come into the school dressed up as another student and steal things from the school. There are a lot of dangerous people out there; sometimes more than kids realize,” Jenkins said.