There are a few things in high school that make me feel as if I’ve been spending these last four years in the Leavenworth Penitentiary. Yes, I realize we don’t walk through the halls in orange jumpsuits. And I know we don’t have chains tied around our ankles as we drag ourselves down the hall. We also are not here by choice. There are many ways high school and prison are similar.
Seven hours of my day I sit in a classroom. The room is hot and stuffy. The window isn’t allowed to be opened. There are over 30 kids in each classroom. Thirty desks, too. I’m not allowed to go to the bathroom. No option to leave. No choice of what I want to do for the day. Luckily, we get the choice of what we want to wear unlike other schools, but sometimes this feels like our only choice of the day.
The first order of business is bathrooms. Honestly, prison would be better than school when it comes to bathrooms. We are forced to take the dreaded blue shield with us to toilet paper infested stalls. No passes would be needed if there was a cold metal toilet and sink in the corner of each room. Of course it would be a little awkward at first when freshman Sally Ann in the back row first takes the step to the toilet while the class is reading Huck Finn, but it’s something we could become accustomed to.
On the off-chance a teacher even lets you leave their sight, you’d better not forget to take their hall pass with you. To me, a hall pass is eerily similar to having a guard walk with me from room to room. It represents a trust issue. Teachers don’t trust us to be in the hallway without holding a plastic shield (which somehow makes it OK for us to be in the hall at any given time) similar to how guards don’t trust felons to not start a fight with another inmate for taking too many slices of white bread.
Of course high school has its very own brawl in the crowded hall every once in a while, but nothing compared to the near death fights that probably go down daily in the Penitentiary.
Not only are these hall passes constantly getting lost and stolen, they are also possibly one of the most unsanitary things, well, ever.
These six-inch blue plastic passes get set on the floors of bathrooms day in and day out. And who knows what goes on in the boys’ bathrooms. As a girl, the stories we hear about the infamous writing on the bathroom wall seems to be endless. These passes go from students hands, to the bathroom then back to a dirty post-bathroom hand. When a teacher doesn’t make you carry a shield it’s a giant wooden sword or an oversized plastic bug or a sombrero. Why teachers think we are less likely to lose these items behind is beyond me. Students still play catch with the pass down the hall no matter what shape it is.
Like prison, if a student is caught outside of the classroom without one of these dreaded passes we are embarrassingly escorted back to our room.
Upon returning from a quick break in the restroom (Note: don’t take more than a few minutes or the guards, aka teachers, will question you) it’s back to the holding cell for another 30 minutes.
Another shuffle through the halls. On to the cafeteria.
This may be the one place that both high school and prison truly have in common. After three years of eating in the cramped cafeteria, my open lunch time has finally arrived. As lucky seniors (and who am I kidding, sophomores and juniors too) open lunch has proved not to be so fun after all. The privilege of speeding to the local Hen House and snarfing down chicken strips just in the nick of time to sprint back to class just isn’t quite as wonderful as it may sound. Yet again, prison wins this duel due to the fact that they probably don’t have to choke down their food in what seems like five minutes or, maybe they do have to choke down their food, but not for lack of time to eat it.
Students are locked up against their will for doing nothing. None of us are mass murderers. None of us are terrorists. Heck, most of us have never even stolen anything. Since we are all forced to spend all our days in this prison for doing nothing other than being born we should be given more freedoms throughout high school.
Many students don’t get a free period to take a class they want until their junior or senior year. Teachers need to look at the big picture and realize we, the students, aren’t that bad. I mean, at least we aren’t trying to knife each other. It’s understandable that the district needs to keep our schedules fairly structured for safety reasons, but when it’s all laid out on the table, sometimes I think I’d rather just be put in jail. At least I’d have a decent amount of time to eat my lunch.