Wilson Students: Hurrying Up and Waiting
Efforts to improve security at Woodrow Wilson High School have resulted mainly in long lines to enter the building in the morning, students tell the D.C. Wire.
After 13 students were arrested in two fights last month, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee confined all students to their classrooms for lunch for two days, a "lunch lockdown" that shrank to a single day. Teachers and staff increased their presence in the hallways to deter disruptions and violence. There have been no major incidents in recent weeks.
But a group of Wilson students visiting The Post this morning for a meeting of high school
journalists, said the most tangible consequence of tighter security is that it is harder to get to class by the beginning of first period at 8:45 a.m. That's because they are barred from the school's main doors and are now required to enter through metal detectors set up at the gym entrance on Chesapeake Avenue.
Their complaints are the latest frustration with the changes. Initially, some Wilson students were so angry about the lunch lockdown that about 70 staged a walkout.
"I'm usually not late to school, but the last two weeks I've been late almost everyday," said junior Nell Koring, 16. She said it can take up to 10 minutes to work through the bottleneck and clear security.
Koring added that despite increased security little has changed. "The old problems haven't been fixed. A lot of our teachers have to leave class to tell kids not to bang on the lockers," she said.
The students said Rhee promised a new structure for lunch that would separate disruptive students from others, but that has not happened. They feel Rhee was essentially grandstanding at their expense, swooping in to make a series of cosmetic changes without consulting with students.
"I think her coming in and trying to fix our school was a disaster," said junior Sarah Cox-Shrader, 17.
According to the school's home page, officials have held a series of meetings with students and faculty to discuss security issues. Parents are invited today to a 4:30 focus group on "Discipline and the School Climate."
Rhee spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said the students actually have two entrances and that the building is open no later than 8 a.m, so they can be prompt by arriving ten or 15 minutes early. She also said that students now have three locations for lunch, the cafeteria, the first floor and the stadium.
As for input, Hobson said Rhee held "two days of meetings" with students, faculty and parents to discuss improvements in school security.
April 23, 2008; 3:16 PM ET
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