OPRF Teens on Open Campus: Case Closed

With few exceptions, students say parents don't understand the whole story.

Quit labeling all  students as troublemakers. 

That's the message from several teens who convened at on Wednesday for a debate on the possibility of OPRF becoming a "closed campus." 

"Some parents think that everybody does pot and gets wasted and does stupid and destructive things," said Sarah Macey, 17, an OPRF senior. "Not everybody does that." 

While discussions about closing the campus — essentially outlawing the longtime student privilege allowing sophomore, junior and senior students to leave during lunch break — have been prevalent for years, the change in policy could be closer to reality than ever before.

Recently, the student council raised a banner inside the school warning that "Closed Campus is coming IF we don't shape up," and Principal Nathan Rouse circulated a letter to parents, which reads in part: 

"Parents, community members, neighbors, and police – rightly – have helped us focus on inappropriate off-campus student behaviors particularly during lunch in neighborhoods surrounding the high school.

"Too many of our students are littering, loitering, smoking and generally being disrespectful of our neighbors and their property. There also has been some vandalism, as well as drug use and sales that have resulted in recent arrests of students.  The impact of some of these behaviors carries over into the rest of the school day too.

Bottom line – as with the tardy issue -- we can no longer abide the status quo."

At Wednesday's sparsely attended "Teen Cafe" session, which was also open to school neighbors and OPRF officials, the students agreed that there is a problem with littering and smoking during the open campus sessions. 

But they're hoping homeowners near the school, 201 N. Scoville Ave., understand they're working on a solution, which could mean developing a merit-based system that reserves the open campus privilege to students with good grades and clean discipline records. 

Still, that might rule out the students who are trying hard but don't have the grades to show for it, they said. 

Emily Hendrix, OPRF's student council president, said heightened attention from the local media and the high school's revered status make it a big, if undeserved, target. 

"People look at OPRF as a good institution," she said. We're not the only ones with an issue ... but we know we have a problem."

School spokeswoman Kay Foran said discussions about what it would take to actually enact a closed campus policy have barely begun. 

"What would it take if that's the course of action? Not just logistics but procedurally," she said. "All of that's really at the beginning stages of exploring."

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