Why Is Olympia High School a Closed Campus?

Office Administrator Wendy Rae in her Office Space

Office Administrator Wendy Rae in her Office Space

Ffiona Phillips, Journalist

Olympia High School has been a closed campus for over thirty years. This rule prohibits students from leaving school grounds, sitting in cars during lunch, and ordering food to school. Many students feel that they should be allowed to leave campus during lunch. Especially now due to COVID, some agree that an open campus would allow students more space to spread out, and observe social distancing protocol. So why is Olympia High School a closed campus?  

Social Studies teacher, Brent Kabat, explains that tardiness was a factor saying, “people were going to Safeway and being 10 to 15 minutes late to class consistently every day.” Kabat also includes, “neighborhoods over here were complaining a ton about people just hanging out.” Adding onto that, OHS Principal, Matt Grants says, “I’ve worked in an open campus, I’ve watched what happens. I’ve seen kids get into car accidents ‘cause they’re in a hurry to get back.” Olympia High School has been a closed campus throughout Grant’s 30-year career. He thinks safety is the number one reason for having a closed campus, but not the only one. “I also think there is a huge social reason, that’s the one I think that’s usually neglected that I might sometimes feel the strongest about,” says Grant. “I believe lunch is one of the times in a democracy that you are actually working with everyone in your community. If you’re allowed to just go off with people just like you, you are missing a big part of your education [and you’re] missing an opportunity to get to know people with different backgrounds.” 

Office Administrator, Wendy Rae explains the drawbacks of having a closed campus, saying “with COVID, if we had an open campus it would give…the older kids who can drive, more space to spread out, but I don’t think that drawback outweighs the benefits that we have of keeping a closed campus.” Since OHS has been a closed campus for over 30 years, it may be assumed that this will forever continue. “It’s always possible that could change,” says Grant, “It wouldn’t be the end of the world to me if we opened it up. I can’t say with me here I’ll never do it, but it would take a good argument for me to change my mind.” On the other hand, Rae says “negative, that ship has sailed.”

The closed campus rule at OHS also applies to the parking lot. Rae explains how the lack of supervision in the parking lot makes it difficult to ensure students’ safety. “At Capital, they had kids when it was an open campus, messing around in their truck, and kids were in the back, and a kid fell out and died,” she says. Grant adds to that, saying “although the vast majority of people would probably do fine in it, even if 10% are creating a problem, it’s still a problem. I’ve seen people come on campus who are not safe people, we feel as long as people are contained they are much safer.” In addition to not being allowed to leave campus, ordering delivery to school is not allowed. Grant discloses that having food delivered to the school gives another task to the already busy personnel. Rae adds, “Because we don’t know what it is. It could be alcohol, it could be drugs, or it could be anything, we just don’t know.”