Hole in Fence a Growing Concern

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Hole in Fence a Growing Concern

Mackens Mitil, Staff Writer

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In the morning, the roadway on the northeast corner of campus fills with foot traffic, and not all of it is from students walking to school. Many are headed in the opposite direction–away from school, and all of them share something in common. Their path features the same portal, a gaping hole in the black metal fence that surrounds the campus.

Students use the hole in the fence to flock to convenience stores before and during first period, and, if they can escape the wrath of campus security personnel, sometimes during other times of the day, to buy snacks to munch on. 

“I use the hole to get to the Cheveron to buy stuff,” said freshman Ethan “West” Evans.

The hole is no secret. It has existed for as long as most administrators have been at Oak Ridge. However, it’s not supposed to exist at all. It’s only there because students, presumably, have bent or ripped off metal fence posts to gain easier access, and a shorter walking route, to the campus.

“People walk through there all the time,” said campus dean Emory Norris, who is in charge of facilities.” 

In the wake of the tragedy at Parkland High School, districts are taking a close look at campus security, and the hole in the fence stands out as a possible concern. But it’s something that school administrators have already addressed.

“Tell the students to stop breaking it,” said Principal Jennifer Bellinger.” Each time Bellinger has campus personnel make repairs to the fence, a student simply tears down the repaired area or creates another hole by bending the bars.

And Bellinger knows the importance of finding a long-term solution. With no crossing guard at the corner of Oak Ridge Road and Winegard Road, the students jaywalk across the street, which could result in injury. A student could be injured or killed while weaving between moving vehicles. This is why she has sought help from the school district. She has asked the district to install a gate.

“It is up to (the school district) to do something about it, and we are waiting for the process,” said Norris.

The fence dates back to about 2012, which is when the school was rebuilt. Students quickly found a way to circumvent it by prying apart the metal bars. 

According to multiple students, it is relatively easy to slip through the fence without being caught. They say supervision near the fence is not often provided. However, our staff tested their theory and found different results.

To find out whether a student can walk through the hole to a gas station without any recourse, newspaper student Dequan Oakley went through the fence onto the sidewalk during fourth period on Feb. 21. Oakley said he spotted one of the school’s resource officers eying him. But Oakley was back on school grounds before the officer had time to address the situation.

“I’m not sure what he would have done if I kept walking to the gas station,” Oakley said.

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