WCHS drivers stressed by parking dilemma


Austin Vinner

Traffic at WCHS during pickup and drop off is intensified by the amount of buses in the parking lot.

By Austin Vinner, Photo Manager

With hundreds of cars, many of which being driven by inexperienced student drivers, the WCHS parking lot can be a dangerous place. The fewer car accidents are thanks to the security and police officers that help with the school’s pickup and drop off procedures, as well as overall parking procedures.

“Parking lots can be dangerous places and student drivers should be aware of their surroundings,” WCHS police officer, Amy Homrock said.  “I see students in cars lowering the windows, turning on the radio and speeding away, it’s not safe.” 

Terry Bell, the security guard in charge of the parking lots, helps Homrock work to keep students and staff safe. He mentions that the changes this year in traffic procedures have been for the pedestrian’s benefit, since many students walk and don’t drive to school.

“Overall, the new traffic changes have not impacted dropoff and pickup,” Homrock said. “They only added the concrete bumps on Gainsborough to prevent parents from creating a second lane when there should only be one, which makes is safer for students to cross the street.”

WCHS is focusing on pedestrian safety this year which is beneficial considering the trouble the school has had in the past. The main point that Homrock and Bell communicate is that students need to be careful coming to and going from school.

“Students should be vigilant when in parking lots,” Homrock said. “I’ve stopped students plenty of time to tell them to put on their seatbelts or to get off their phones.” 

Students and parents aren’t the only ones who are impacted by the new changes. Staff have also made changes to their daily life. Emails sent out to parents over the summer outlined the specific changes that would occur and provided advanced warning on how the parking rules have changed.

“Every spot in the parking lot has been numbered for both staff and students,” Principal Brandice Heckert said. “Students and staff can only park in their designated number and the historical “senior lot” off of Victory is now staff parking only.”

Teachers were impacted by these changes to the parking rules. Considering students already have had assigned parking spots, it was a surprise to teachers that they would now also have assigned spots.

“I was happy, but when I talked to colleagues that have been at Churchill for a while they were concerned, so I was a little worried,” World Language and ESOL Resource Teacher, Elizabeth Rodgers said. “Some teachers get [to WCHS] very early and a benefit to that was getting to pick the best parking spot, so I was worried people would be unhappy.” 

The overall reaction to the new rule was minor, but since many teachers have been working at WCHS for a long time, it will take some time to adapt. A new agenda of MCPS this year is mental health, so eliminating the stress of finding a parking spot for students and staff alike is a good thing and many other schools already do this.

“My first impression was yay,” Rodgers said. “This is my third school at MCPS and it was the first time that I didn’t have an assigned spot. At both Quince Orchard and Damascus where I used to work, I had an assigned spot and so for me that was normal.”

Although the new rules may upset some staff members, others believe the changes to WCHS parking procedures this year is another step in the right direction. Some staff are glad that the administration is taking initiative to prevent anymore parking-related issues around the school.

“Over the past several years there was a bit of chaos related to drop off so I think the intention was positive and it does speed things up,” Rogers said. “The only reason the decision was met with any negativity was because change is difficult for people. We’ll just have to wait until the end of this year and see whether people like the new rules or not.”