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Superintendent Listening Post

Senior Parking Lot – privilege or penalty?

As underclassmen, Mayo students dream of the day when they become seniors, ruling the school, leading the pep fests, and making great memories with their classmates; they also look forward to all of the “senior privileges” that are granted to them for having come this far in their academic career, but what are these privileges and what do they mean and how valuable are they?

One of the senior privileges is the right of all seniors to park in a designated area, one in which no other class members should park; it’s essentially exclusive, like for VIPs. Although no large concerns have arisen since “The Senior Lot” (its student-given name) was established over 60 years ago, the nearly 300-meter, 450-step walk has caused many seniors over the years to complain, especially and specifically during the months when winter weather makes it unbearable to get to and from that far-away field. 

Some might say that the walk only gets longer and longer with every step during the winter season. Even the 2024 senior class president Helen Girma noted that “especially in the winter, it’s a long walk.’’

Photo courtesy of Post Bulletin

In 2022 Rochester experienced a low of -21 degrees Fahrenheit and in recent history an all-time low of -30 degrees, so trudging that great distance from the privileged, VIP parking to Door 6 doesn’t seem so great, but there should be benefits to parking in that lot, especially considering how “it’s quicker to get out of the senior parking lot compared to being in the main student lot, because you might get stuck [in the traffic getting out of the main lot],” Korbin Rollie said. If you can get to your car before those in the main parking lot get to theirs, you will be able to leave first. The question is, though, how do you get there first, when you have to walk much farther to reach your vehicle?

Beyond that, our Principal Mr. Prigge made an inference about how “kids in the 1960s and 70s probably enjoyed being in that far lot more because they would gather there more. Kids’ motivation has probably changed to wanting to get to class or go home rather than hanging out in a parking lot.” That is especially true when the high temperature of the day is around 5° above zero. 

It’s not uncommon to see seniors getting out of their cars and stepping into a layer of slush. Then, wet foot and all, they make the the 300-meter walk in freezing temperatures and gusting winds that make five minutes feel like a lifetime. At those times, the so-called “special senior parking lot,’’ seems less like a privilege and more like a punishment. 

With that in mind, Mr. Prigge pointed out that “Traditions are difficult to break, for one. Well, this one’s been going on for 60 years, right? But I don’t know if this is really what fits the definition of a tradition. It’s kind of just been ‘the passing of the torch.’” Does that mean that seniors are stuck with it? Have they all but abandoned it? …pretty much.

“They’re just traditions, like there’s nothing saying that you can’t break traditions, and not all traditions are good. Just because it’s the way it’s always been doesn’t mean it’s the right way or the best way to do something,” Korbin Rollie said.

What if there were a simple solution? What if we stopped looking at that lot as a senior privilege and sought privileges elsewhere? Besides, what other benefits do seniors get in their 12th year of school, what rights or rewards have they earned? 

The only other senior privilege that comes to mind involves the final week off before graduation. Might seniors humbly ask for more?

In fact, some schools in the surrounding area do get to experience senior privileges such as but not limited to leaving five minutes before the final school bell rings. Some schools offer twelfth-graders a personal designated parking spot or free entrance into sporting events, but these all come at a minor cost, consistent attendance, or maintenance of a good academic standing.

Unfortunately, Mayo High School does not honor any of these.

The lack of senior privileges is a problem that has been neglected for many years, and it’s time for us students to put pressure on our school administration to approve more senior privileges. Student leaders and interested groups should speak up about this issue, developing new, creative ways to offer senior privileges. 

Another thing that the student council should consider would be to develop a plan that could be put forth to the administration that would change the layout of the parking lot to benefit all seniors, while helping to organize the cluster of chaos we all experience entering and exiting the student parking lot. We students need to speak up; all of our student unions need to find common ground on these issues and take charge for our benefit.

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