Cars are stacked up in the high-school line on Sept. 30 at 3:35 p.m. Parents are still coming to pick up their high-school students earlier than the new dismissal time: 3:40.

Traffic less a problem than 20 years ago; still, new high-school dismissal time doesn’t always prevent a pick-up line jam

One month into the school year, everyone should already know about the 15-minute change in the high school’s pick-up time: dismissal is still at 3:25 p.m., but pick-up  isn’t until 3:40 p.m.

The change was made primarily to “avoid congestion,” especially because of the 15-student  increase  in high-school enrollment this year, said Brooke Wells, head of high school.

“It was an obvious solution,” Wells stated. “If it makes no difference, why not come later?”

However, according to observations made by freshmen Jack Christian and Grace Naify, this rule has had little effect on the pick-up situation. On Sept. 8, five or more cars still backed up into the street at 3:30 p.m., and by 3:40 p.m., the majority of high schoolers had already gone, Christian said.

According to a poll taken Sept. 22, forty-five percent of high school students say they’re rushing off right after dismissal for a sports practice or another extracurricular activity outside of school. Wells explains that, if necessary, parents can come earlier than 3:40 p.m.

The school’s new focus on traffic is an attempt to avoid the kind of serious problems that occurred 20 years ago, when James Nelson, parent of Amy and Beth Nelson, ‘98, was chair of the Board of Trustees. The heavy traffic around drop-off and pick-up times caused what Nelson described as “a period of trauma for both the school and its neighbors.”

Miscommunication about enrollment numbers initiated the strife, Nelson said, and the congestion on Latham Drive and surrounding streets that blocked driveways only escalated the conflict between the neighbors and the school.

“A bomb threat was called into the school (and) one morning tacks were found (scattered) on the school driveway,” Nelson recalled.

“One infamous day we awoke to hundreds of signs along Latham, Munroe (Street) and American River Drive with the number 422 printed on them.”

The enrollment at the time was almost 100 students over the permit-enforced limit of 422, similar to Country Day’s enrollment of 500 students today.

Although these events occurred 20 years ago, they serve as an abrupt reminder to our community that respect for the residential areas around our school and for the staggered pick-up times for all grades are of paramount importance to the success and growth of our school, Nelson said.

Nelson, who now lives on Latham Drive, is happy that the traffic situation is no longer so serious.

But the traffic problem still isn’t completely solved. On Sept. 30, cars were still stacking up in the high-school line at 3:35 p.m.

By Sahej Claire

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