The Blue Light’s gone… what’s next for East?

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Story by Kate McCanna, Staff Writer

While walking the halls of East Meck, the 2018-2019 student body was constantly on high alert, for it could have been lurking anywhere. The thing of nightmares—The Blue Light.

At any moment, students could be caught off guard by a flashing blue police light held by school administrators at high traffic hallway junctions. The Blue Light policy was created by Principal Rick Parker as a way to alleviate student traffic, “mall-walking” and implement important rules regarding the usage of cellphones during school. If a student was caught with a phone near the Blue Light, which was randomly placed in different hallways during class changes, their device would be confiscated and they would get after school detention. The only time during the day that students could access their personal devices was at lunch.

“Parker’s very theatrical and he comes up with these great ideas,” assistant principal Yolanda Whitley said. “So he wanted to do the Blue Light last year as a way to remind students that there were to be no headphones and no phones in the hallways.”

The Blue Light was the talk of many students last year, in fact, there was often a great deal of complaining about not being able to pull out devices around the hallways. The policy regarding having phones out had become so strictly enforced that a lot of tension developed between students and teachers.

“I wanted more positive interactions with our kids every day, so when we talk to you in the hall there’s more of a smile and ‘Are you having a good day’, or ‘How are you doing in school’ rather than ‘Take your earbuds out, you’re in the wrong,’” Parker said, “Everything was negative, so we wanted to turn that around and I think it’s working really well, I’ve been enjoying talking to kids more, there’s less stress on the kids and us.”

Without the Blue Light, Parker and the administration decided to use other tactics to control student traffic and get kids to class. For example, Parker’s team has changed the bell schedule and school now starts 10 minutes earlier at 7:15. Teachers are also required to be at their duty posts around the school, which reduces the chance of students not using their time efficiently and decreases the effect that distractions like phones have on students.

“It minimizes things that we might have to take care of so we like to keep the kids moving,” Whitley said.

In the end, Parker comes up with ideas like the Blue Light to keep the student body safe and out of trouble. Some tactics like the infamous Blue Light will turn out to be unsuccessful, but with compliance from teachers and students alike, the school can continue to run smoothly as a positive community.

“Safety is the most important thing. We’re concerned about your safety, we want you to be safe at school and we try to do everything in our power, since we are an open school, to keep you safe,” Parker said.