Unpacking the Backpack Policy
Written by Emily Fan
The backpack policy has been a hotly contested subject at East Ridge High School since the day the school opened. This subject was finally laid to rest this year when administrator’s decided to update the backpack policy due to student involvement. This recent change to the backpack policy proves that students at East Ridge may have more control over policy at this school than they previously realized. The East Ridge administration is willing to listen to students as long as the student body makes an effort to talk to them.
Up until the 2017-2018 school year, students could not officially carry backpacks or other personal bags larger than a pencil pouch to class. However, there was a period of time before the 2015-2016 school year when the policy was simply not enforced.
The 2015-2016 school year saw a change in the administration team including the addition of a new principal, Mr. Smokrovich, leading to confusion surrounding the backpack policy. Smokrovich explained that “When we got together with the admin team that we hired, we just went through the student handbook and said, ‘well we’re just not going to change anything right now, let’s uphold the student handbook.’”
After hearing complaints from disgruntled students last year, including a petition started by current senior Cassie Hagan that over half the school had signed, the East Ridge Administration team decided to revise the backpack policy the next school year and allow string backpacks.
The revision to the backpack policy did little to shift attitudes towards it “so the student council came up with a resolution” stated Smokrovich. Criticism from the student body in addition to student council’s resolution paved the way for the current backpack policy at East Ridge High School: allowing student to carry backpacks and bags to class.
Luckily, it seems that the new backpack policy has brought a lot of positive change to student life at East Ridge. “Students have expressed that they have more time between classes, that their hands are free, and that we’ve noticed specifically that pods and the hallways are much cleaner compared to years past,” assistant principal Mrs. Johnson noted.
According to Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Smokrovich, the only concern that teachers initially had when allowing backpacks in classrooms was about aisle congestion. This issue has been easily solved by students simply hanging their backpacks on the backs of their seats or placing them at the front of the room.
A great way for the student body to communicate issues to the administrative team at East Ridge is through the student cabinet. The student cabinet is “directly related to hearing student voice and bringing student perspective to solving issues or bringing new ideas to the table to enhance the climate and culture of school,” explained Mr. Smokrovich.
As of right now, the student cabinet is relatively unknown by the student body so, “having the fact that student cabinet exists being more known would be really nice” says Cassie Hagan, the creator of the backpack petition and a member of student cabinet herself. Cassie’s statement regarding the student cabinet was echoed by both Mr. Smokrovich and Mrs. Johnson. Students looking to change the educational or cultural environment might consider contacting a student cabinet representative to bring about administratively supported change. A list of your student cabinet representatives can be found below: