Seniors should be able to use their cars at lunch


Maggie Dolan

Bernards High senior lunch pass for open campus lunch privilege

For many years, it has been a tradition for seniors to receive the privilege of being allowed to leave school and go downtown into Bernardsville’s shopping center for lunch. Students have loved being able to leave for lunch because sometimes they forget to pack something, but it is also nice to have a little break.

The seniors also love that they feel trusted enough to travel to town, but some have started to not enjoy the way we have to get there. Majority of the people who leave during lunch walk the “path” by the bank. There is a gate that connects the faculty parking lot to the back of this bank, and during the school year, this gate is locked due to liability issues. The people in charge of this decision say that trucks and cars are always going through that area which is their main concern. Students have taken alternate routes like hopping or sliding around the gate. There also is a steep hill that leads around this gate that seniors will also walk down. Many people have fallen or received scratches from doing all this.

Due to these issues, a group of seniors have been wanting to propose the idea of signing a liability waiver which allows them to use their cars during lunch. Dr. Neigel noted how in the absence of the parent, the school is completely responsible for the students. He described the term “loco parentis” and how it refers to the legal responsibility of some organization to perform some of the functions or the responsibilities of a parent.

Before working at Bernards High, Dr. Neigel worked at another school which allowed the seniors to drive their cars during lunch. There were many problems with speeding tickets, illegal purchases of alcohol, and accidents. Dr. Neigel explains how Bernards is “in a unique position where we can go to town without driving and cars are simply not worth the risk.”

When asked Doctor Neigel if he cares when kids bring food or drinks back for kids in other grades, he simply stated that there is no issue with that. “Seniors have been fantastic. I’m really proud of them,” he stated at the end of the interview with a big smile.

Although walking limits the distance the students who leave for lunch can travel, unlike a car, we cannot forget how much of a privilege it is to be able to even be able to go to town. “It’s one thing to hustle back on foot, it’s another thing to be operating a vehicle.”

The controversy may seem to never end with the school and students but it does not mean it will stop people from leaving for lunch. At the end of the day, no one can argue with others who are trying to keep them safe.