At MHS, Thou Shalt Not Park?
This article was submitted by Montclair High School senior Lena Rawley.
A parking spot is a parking spot…correct? It’s simply a space on the pavement, nothing revolutionary. Its existence doesn’t magically salvage Romney’s presidential campaign or end poverty. But, with the way Montclair High School students value these parking spaces, you’d think the cure for cancer was tucked between those white lines.
Unlike many high schools MHS does not possess a student parking lot. The only place for students to park is on the streets near the high school. During school hours the streets surrounding the high school (Midland, James, Park, Chestnut) are clogged with the upperclassmen’s parked cars.
“In order to get a good spot, you have to get here really early,” commented one senior.
“It’s fierce competition,” joked another.
“You literally need to get here at seven thirty if you want a spot,” said newly licensed junior Jessie Kent-Cutillo. “Any later than that, you might as well just walk, because that’s how far away from the school you’re going to be parked.”
Having a zero period gives students a leg up on this parking competition.
“I have a zero period every morning of the week so I never have to worry about not getting a spot,” says senior Savannah Bigelow.
“I used to park on Midland, but now I’ve started parking my car on Chestnut,” Bigelow elaborates. “Because it’s so early, parking isn’t a stressful situation for me.”
Proud of finding a spot? Don’t rest on your laurels because said spot comes with a whole new wave of stress.
“There’s a two-hour limit on Chestnut and Midland and a four-hour limit on Park,” explains senior Courtney McMorrow. “Which is ridiculous. What am I going to do…leave class to move my car? If you have a spot, you should get to keep that spot for the day.”
McMorrow voices a common concern. Students work hard to get their spots in the morning, yet two to four hours later they’re forced to pack up and find yet another spot; and the afternoon isn’t any friendlier than the morning, parking-wise.
In addition to time limits, driving upperclassmen are also faced with a police force that is relentless when it comes to tickets. In some cases they’ve even marked the student’s tires with chalk, then checked the tires later in the day to see if it has rubbed off. If there’s still chalk on your tires, it means your care hasn’t moved and, boom goes the ticket.
“It’s infuriating that they ticket us during school hours,” says senior Fabiana Citro. “They make it so hard to park, it’s really not fair. I’m in school, I should be worrying about my classes- not whether or not I’m going to get a ticket.”
Ticket happy officers also bestow these fines on cars without a permit.
Parking permits are offered to MHS upperclassmen at the beginning of the school year. The school sells them for ninety dollars. These permits allow for the students to park on Midland for the entire school day without worry of tickets.
Some students obediently buy the permits, but a majority of upperclassmen refuse.
Are they worth the cost?
“Ninety dollars to park my car is ridiculous,” says Citro.
Many students agree with Citro and are under the impression that for ninety dollars, they should get a weekly carwash (interior and exterior) and daily cup of coffee.
“It’s a lot of money,” commented one senior. “They really should just let us park for free.”
“It’s like they’re trying to keep us from driving to school,” complained another.
While the burdens of parking at the high school may sound like bourgeois problems, they’re actually quite unavoidable for a considerable amount of the upperclassmen.
“I don’t drive to school because I want to, I do it because I have to,” says McMorrow. “If I didn’t drive I would have no way to get to school. I live on the complete opposite side of town and both my parents work.”
“It makes kids not want to drive to school which for some makes their commute even more difficult,” she adds.
“Freedom to park” may not be an amendment in the Bill of Rights, but it doesn’t mean that MHS students aren’t entitled to it. That parking space may seem insignificant to those who don’t attend the high school, and are privy to unlimited parking wherever and whenever, but to students it is the cure to cancer, the answer to our current economic debacle.
For all the hard work that they do, MHS students deserve to park their cars in peace. No tickets, no time limits, no stressed out mornings. If Marie Antoinette were alive (and had a head) I’m sure she’d side with students and cry, “Let them park their cars!”