ConVal High School student seeks more passes during the school day

  • ConVal High School.  FILE PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/21/2022 1:49:00 PM

A ConVal High School senior has started an online petition in protest of the high school’s policy of limiting bathroom breaks during the school day.

The “Free to Pee ConVal High School” online petition was started by Raiven Lewis, a senior at ConVal who addressed the School Board at Tuesday’s meeting. Lewis explained that students are given three e-hall passes that allow them to get water, go to the cafeteria and to use the bathroom, and that this isn’t enough.

Lewis also said that limiting students to three five-minute e-hall passes – which uses technology that replaces a traditional sign-out sheet and can be used to prevent students from meeting, curb vaping and increase time in the classroom – is not enough.

“I’m not the type of person to do this stuff. I’m a quiet person,” Lewis said. “But it feels like their taking away a human right.”

Lewis said most of the students didn’t know about the new hall pass system until the school year began. She challenged the seven opportunities the school says it provides during the day for students to visit the cafeteria, get water or use the bathroom – before and after school, during the four passing times and lunch – saying this still doesn’t provide enough time and does not allow for mental health breaks.

“They claim there are seven opportunities to go during the day, but in between classes there are lines,” Lewis said, adding that she has been late for class because of this. She also addressed the issue of menstruation for young women, explaining that she didn’t think it was fair women should have to choose between not changing a tampon because they don’t have time and being on time for a class. 

Lewis posted her concerns on the Peterborough, NH, Facebook page last week.

ConVal High School Principal Heather McKillop addressed the School Board at the end of the meeting about the issue of e-hall passes.

“I intentionally chose not to comment during the first period of public comment because I thought it was important to give the student space for her voice,” she said. “Now, as the principal of the high school, I would like to add my comments and share with the board and any member of the public that is watching the communication I did send home on Sept. 14 to our families that gave clarification to our e-hall pass system.”

That communication, which was also posted on the Peterborough, NH, Facebook page, reads in part: “During the 2021/2022 school year, feedback from staff, students and parents indicated a need to address the number of students in the halls and bathrooms during class time. Based on this feedback, a group was formed in June that included teachers, school counselors, administrators and school nurses to discuss and revisit the e-hall pass allotment. The primary concern was the amount of time and number of students out of class, which was a disruption to the learning environment and posed a safety concern. Based on the feedback and discourse from the members of the group, a proposed shift in pass allotment was created and then shared with the Student Council for feedback.”

According to McKillop, if a student has used all three e-hall passes and needs to use the restroom, he or she should ask the teacher for a pass to the nurse, where there is a bathroom.

McKillop said the cost of the e-hall pass software for the year was $2,700. She said that while the school is only four weeks into the year, the majority of the feedback received from the staff has been positive. 

“A student can generate a pass to a specific location that a teacher/staff member is able to electronically approve,” she said. “This helps with student accountability. The school will continue to monitor the system and make adjustments if necessary. If we need to locate a student for a health or safety concern, the e-hall pass system is able to identify where they may be if they are not in their assigned learning environment.”

Lewis’s online petition has gained more than 130 signatures so far. 

“It feels like the school is punishing the entire school,” she said. “They’re punishing us, all of us, by restricting us to the three hall passes.”

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