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Learning In and Out of the Classroom

by Max Cea

After spending four years in one place, you learn many important lessons. And not all of them are in the classroom.

My friends and I often reminisce about some of the great times we had at Nyack High School. Those positive experiences occurred both in class and off campus. As freshman, I remember the newfound exhilaration that came with the freedom to walk across the street to the Golden Mushroom restaurant. With that reward also came responsibility: I needed to learn time management skills to be a more productive and independent student.

In the Fall of 2011, Nyack High School adopted a new policy which banned students from driving off campus during school hours. It does, however, grant sophomores, juniors, and seniors permission slips to walk off campus during their lunch and/or café option periods during the 2011-12 school year, as long as they have permission from their parents and no illegal absences or suspensions lasting one day or longer.
Students have adjusted to the new rules without too much protest. However, the quiet can be explained because students with cars have found a loophole. On days when seniors plan to leave during school hours, they just leave their cars in nearby parking lots.

If the policy had only been designed to reduce accidents, it could be considered a success. In my experience at Nyack High School, most of the accidents were small fender-benders in the parking lot. Parking off campus reduces congestion in the school’s parking lot; fewer cars lower the likelihood that there will be an accident.
Nyack High School Principal Joe Spero says the policy is going smoothly. ‘€œIt’s not something that is present on the minds of many people at this point,’€ he says. Though the policy itself is not weighing heavily on the minds of students, the incentive to go to class is. The high school has not compiled any numbers regarding class attendance or test scores, yet the number of permission slips granted has increased from quarter to quarter. The logic would tell us that if the permission slips are attendance based, and more are being given out, class attendance must be increasing.

The question then becomes, is higher class attendance worth some of loss of independence? It’s a no brainer to say the administration would rather have students spend their time in class ‘€“ rather than, say, unapproved activities in the woods near the school. But I can vouch for the value of that independence: the transition from high school to college was easier for me because I had the opportunity to be on my own at Nyack High School.

Max Cea is a 2011 Nyack High School graduate now attending the University of Delaware.

Nyack Farmer's Market

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