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A Little Less Privilege for Seniors

Policy Rolled Back for ’23-’24
A Little Less Privilege for Seniors

Students at Reading Memorial High School are currently dealing with the changes of senior privilege that began this 2023 school year. 

The RMHS administration decided it would be in the best interest of students to change senior privilege, which caused a lot of mixed emotions throughout the school. In the 2022-2023 school year, seniors were able to leave school during any free block. The senior privilege restrictions, which previously allowed seniors to leave campus if they had an first block or last block study, extended during Covid-19, when open-campus was introduced to all students to reduce the spread of the virus. The implementation of open campus was then limited to only seniors who had studies, lunch, and flex. During the senior assembly, held at the beginning of the school year, it was discussed that changes were made in response to underclassmen abusing the privileges that weren’t intended for them. Senior privilege was then changed to how it was Pre-Covid.

RMHS Vice-principal Ms.Theriault was asked about her feelings about the matter, specifically the students’ reactions.  She said, ”I know people are upset and I’ve heard a lot of students telling me that they feel that they waited for this for four years and I completely understand. I get it, it’s got to be hard to be a student, in a school, during a pandemic, when you have freedom to come and go, and not ever see senior privilege how it was before the pandemic but this is, what we have now is exactly how it was before the pandemic and I think a lot of people don’t really understand that.” Ms. Theriault also expressed that she has been made  aware of the petition made against the changes to senior privilege. “You know the principal has meetings with students, she is meeting with some this week. She is open to hearing and working with students, so she is the ultimate decision maker.”

So really it is about safety for me and us being able to account for and make sure you guys are safe throughout the day.

— Interim Principal Callanan

According to Ms. Theriault, administration tried to give as many seniors as possible the opportunity for senior privilege. Currently, twenty-three seniors have an A block study and forty-one students have a G block study, which means only sixty-four out of 291 seniors have access to senior privilege. 

RMHS Interim Principal Ms. Callanan explained that she changed senior privilege back for safety reasons. “So really it is about safety for me and us being able to account for and make sure you guys are safe throughout the day. So what I did was I went back to where it was before the pandemic. So we have the seniors can still come in late if they have a study first or second period when second period is first if that makes sense. The same thing goes for the afternoon. So that was the open campus policy that was in place prior to the pandemic and so I just brought that back. But I am working with the seniors to come up with some other privileges that are within the building as well as the class officers.” Ms. Callanan is also aware of the petition and stated, “I would much rather sit down and talk to the class officers who were elected to represent your class and come up with sensible solutions that also make sure that the seniors are safe all the time and that’s what we’re doing.”

…even if they want to change anything it would be a courtesy to reach out to us and see if…there’s any kind of compromise.

— Liam Billingham ('24)

Current RMHS Senior Liam Billingham created a petition on behalf of the senior class to reverse the changes. The petition gained traction with parents, former students, and underclassmen, which in the end amounted to over 800 signatures. When made aware that the administration had seen the petition Billingham stated, “I understand that they’re aware. But the issue that I’m seeing is they’re not reaching out, which seems like they’re not taking us seriously, which is really the main issue. I mean, even if they want to change anything it would be a courtesy to reach out to us and see if anything, you know, if there’s any kind of compromise. But it seems like they’re very much taking the hard line. But there’s definitely some path forward.”

Billingham also added that discussions with his peers encouraged him to start the petition. “Talking to the student body it seemed like there wasn’t an adequate consultation with students and parents before like a very wide ranging decision. It seems like you know, as an interim principle coming into the position, it seemed like a really, it seemed like rocking the boat almost? And also like this senior class and RMHS has a culture built around student voice, and action, and I feel like that kind of fell in line with that. So it felt like the right thing to do after talking to people, and senior class, and the school in general.”

The issue of senior privilege is still a point of contention between students and administration. Seniors are hoping to have more conversations surrounding their concerns and that a compromise can be reached before second quarter begins.

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