The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Crashes in the community calls for MCPS safety concerns

Photo by Amari Suissa
Multiple parents line up in the side parking lot at WCHS to drop off their kids Tuesday, November 20. Although it’s 5 minutes until school starts, parents and student drivers are still arriving and are rushing to leave.

School is supposed to be a place of safety for students. Not a place to fear being hit in the parking lot or even crossing the road. Since the beginning of the school year, there have been multiple crashes in the WCHS parking lot and property.

There have been a concerning amount of crashes, as it has not even been three months through the school year. The WCHS administration has looked into why these accidents are happening. According to WCHS Principal John Taylor, this may be due to several factors.

“So I think two things happen,” Taylor said. “One, we know every year when there’s the time change, it disrupts people’s schedules a little. Two, when we get further into the school year, people are tired because they’re staying up late. Because they’re tired, they get up later and now they’re rushing to get to where they need to be. That leads to more congestion in the morning.”

In the afternoon, it’s a whole other story. Parents and students have one synonymous goal: get off school property as soon as possible. WCHS security guard James Taylor, best known as JT, has seen the chaos in the parking lots after the last bell rings.
“I think in the afternoon, it’s just people being busy,” JT said. “Students and parents are focused on their next activity or unfortunately, looking at their phones. If no one is paying attention or gets impatient and starts speeding, it can cause a bad accent.”

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Almost a fourth of students at WCHS walk home. One of those students being sophomore Laney Mandov. Mandov knows that these accidents can happen, but knows that students who walk with their eyes on their phones instead of on the road can add to the number of crashes.

“Yeah, it concerns me that crashes are happening and people are getting hit in the parking lots [at Churchill],” Mandov said. “Students who walk at Churchill might be struggling to look both ways or don’t feel like they have the responsibility to put drivers before themselves. I don’t think that people should be getting hit, but paying attention would help stop some accidents.”

These crashes are not only happening at WCHS but schools all across the county. MCPS has done some research on how to prevent these crashes. Principal Taylor has been instrumental in helping MCPS make WCHS parking lots a safer place.

“In the past, we’ve done some studies, so some of the things you see on our campus are directly from traffic studies and the county telling us to do it,” Taylor said. “The fence in the bus loop is so that kids aren’t crossing wherever, and the concrete barriers on the sidewalks slow down people when turning in and guide traffic.”

As the school year progresses, students adjust their schedules to try to get to school on time so they’re not rushing in the parking lots and learn to be patient in the afternoons when the parking lots can get plugged and exits blocked.

“There’s less congestion, and students know what the traffic flows are,” Taylor said. “We’ve worked with the police to adjust some of the traffic lights, especially the Gainsborough-Tuckerman one so it’s not backing people up. It’s small things that have helped overall.”

Even after leaving the parking lots, there are still safety concerns down the road. A lot of student walkers and drivers cross the road at the Gainsborough-Tuckerman intersection. There have been crashes happening behind the WCHS building, so while there are reminders about parking lot safety, there needs to be reminders about safety overall.

“A lot of students don’t pay attention to pride lessons, but there was an engaging lesson about safe driving, it might bring awareness to it,” Mandov said. “I know that the security guards try to signal when pedestrians should be walking and when drivers should be driving, but after you leave Churchill, there are fewer safety precautions.”

There also should be reminders to students outside of school, not just institutions in the parking lots to try to prevent accidents. Messages have gone out to parents and student drivers, as well as some reminders in weekly emails sent by Principal Taylor.

“I think a lot of it’s reminders and information,” JT said. “In any situation, we all have the best intentions of following rules, but sometimes we forget. Instead of it being a one-off reminder we need to remind each other to be safe and careful continually.”

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About the Contributor
Amari Suissa
Amari Suissa, Internal Communications Manager
Amari Suissa is currently a sophomore at WCHS and this is her second year taking journalism. Amari was initially interested in taking this class because she wanted to be an author when she was young. In her free time, Amari likes to watch the MLB and NFL, play softball, and hang out with family.

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