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OPINION: WHS Construction is Literally Driving Us Crazy

Updated: Sep 8, 2019

Let’s have an upperclassman discussion on how to fix it.

Dear WHS students,

I bet I can give you a debilitating migraine with one simple word: construction. If you or a loved one has been affected by the recent construction in and around the building, you might be entitled to a new, state-of-the art facility! Two years down the road, of course. Juniors and Seniors may experience symptoms such as completely missing out on the final outcome and bearing the burden of the growing pains. You may wonder if you’ll ever receive compensation for getting the seemingly shortest end of the stick in the current building’s 21 year history.

Self-victimization is a prevalent coping mechanism among teenagers according to Psychology Today. Isn’t that what teenagers do best? I wouldn’t be surprised if over fall break, some people held a private funeral for their favorite parking spot before it got ripped out. But let me say this. It is not the Westfield way to whine when we’re literally all hit with the exact same routine change. Have some dignity! Have some upperclassman decorum! Let’s realize that there are in fact ways to lessen the throbbing headaches that the parking lot causes.

Everyone has an opinion; that’s fantastic. Now, the challenge for us students is to partake in open conversations focused on solutions rather than to complain about the problems. That’s the common sense move.

In the past two weeks post-fall break, some of you have brainstormed coping mechanisms. You’ve probably considered carpooling. You’ve probably shared your new strategically-planned route with your friends (only the real locals know that East Street can be your best friend north or your worst nightmare south). You’ve probably contemplated taking one for the team and riding the bus again.

After doing some casual polling, it’s come to my attention that no one really has a perfect trade-off free solution no matter how brilliant they think their ideas are. Sorry.

But fear not, as this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. If there was an easy fix, the school would’ve already implemented it. That being said, I’ll elaborate on some of the better ideas shared with me that may indeed help, then weigh the benefits against the costs. One popular concept I’ve heard many people suggest is simply to add another entrance, whether it's paved or temporary. This seems pretty necessary on Union Street, where the traffic is bumper to bumper from IMMI to 32. It’s a public safety crisis every morning and afternoon for Maple Park Village nursing home because at any given moment, they might have to call the EMS for their elderly patients. How much time would be wasted trying to maneuver 75 or more cars blocking both lanes for an ambulance? Adding another entrance or exit would rev up efficiency.

If we look at the parking demographics, it’s clear that there are three groups trying to scurry their way in and out of the lot every day: student drivers, parent drivers and school buses. Some have suggested assigning exits for each group, but after considering all of the complications and flaws with that plan, it’s beyond apparent that it’s unfeasible-- take my word for it, because I don’t want to waste your time with a two paragraph breakdown as to why.

What you should take my word for is that we need to deter the enormous underclassman population that have parents drive them to school. For one, canceling the parent factor will cut down the number of driving groups from three to two. Plus, some of the reasons why underclassmen don’t ride the bus are so pathetic that I now truly understand why everyone hates Gen Z. Guys, the situation is absurd. Freshmen tell me they save twenty minutes in the morning by not riding the bus... I tell them that student drivers now have to leave thirty minutes earlier AND buses indisputably arrive late nearly every day. But hey, twenty minutes is twenty minutes. A few also blatantly told me that they don’t ride the bus because they hate it. That one got me--I almost broke down right then and there crying. I said,

“Thank you for sharing your story. You are so strong.”

After I played them a tune of pity on the tiniest violin in the world, I reminded them of how if the bus is late to school, they won’t even be counted tardy.

As I wrap this up, I urge you all to carpool--it’s not that hard. And it’s the most resource-efficient solution considering that 75 percent of us live in cookie cutter neighborhoods where we could throw a rock and hit four classmates’ houses. You can’t always ride the bus due to sports or extracurriculars before and after school, I get that. And I’d like to make it abundantly clear that I’m not sacrificing freshmen as my scapegoat either. But every single one of us has something we can do if we want to alleviate the headache. It’s all for one and one for all.


Ben Richardson

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