Centennial’s Driving Dilemma

Bryn Schwartz

With student arrivals to school turning later and later with time, it calls into question the “secret” shortcut and the parking lot problem.

In late November, Centennial administration introduced the “tardy table.”A line filled with late students waiting for passes to class formed behind this table, and stretched out the front doors daily. Essentially, instead of going to class after the late bell rings, students are required to get a pass. The table, controversial amongst students, was created to help decrease the amount of late students in the morning. However, the amount of late students did not change much and only resulted in students arriving to class even later. 

Many students returning to in-person school have needed to learn when to leave their houses to get to school on time. Despite being so far into the school year, the issue keeps recurring. This is mainly due to the Centennial parking lot problem: too little space for too many cars.

Upperclassmen and even parents slowly became aware of a neighborhood shortcut making the commute to school immensely shorter. On Old Annapolis road one can turn left onto Carillon road and eventually drive on Century drive. However, this shortcut is no longer a secret, as its speedy arrival has spread around the school. Students from Dunloggin neighborhoods as well as the Ellicott Mills area have been using the route. This is a problem for many students who live in the neighborhood, as their only route to school has a longer line.

Senior Sean May, who lives in the Burleigh Manor neighborhood, stated, “I’m fairly certain the majority of cars that cut through my neighborhood in the morning are students, because I recognize most of the kids that do cut through. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen at least a couple parents that don’t live in my neighborhood come through as well.”

Katherine Roybal, a senior who lives on Century drive, said that the main people crowding up the line are “parents dropping their kids off on the side of the road and waiting in the line.”

Parents using this “shortcut” are who many students blame for the increase in cars. “I think if parents dropped their kids off a little further away it wouldn’t affect the traffic on Centennial Lane as much, which would make it easier to turn onto the main road. The issue can also be resolved by parents just going through the normal procedure of going through the Centennial drop-off line.”

This crowded line also affects many students in the morning. Roybal said, “It is not fun to see a long line of cars in your neighborhood when you have to be at school in 5 minutes.” She and May have also mentioned that these lines have caused them to be late on multiple occasions. 

“For the first couple months of school I probably had about 20 days where I was late and I doubt most of those would have happened if there weren’t as many cars driving through my neighborhood because I’m used to having not as much traffic,” explained May. 

The overcrowding of cars affects walkers in the morning as well. Annabelle Dahl, a freshman, walks to Centennial every morning through Century. “I have never been hit or anything, but there have been times where I am in the middle of the road and student drivers have come very close without slowing down.” She also explained that she “feels[s] uncomfortable walking on the road” and usually walks on the sidewalk or grass instead. This calls into question the safety of students’ morning commutes.

For some, waiting extra longer in a neighborhood line is not too big of an issue. “I don’t really see it as an issue, just more of a function of how transportation works in the U.S. If we all have our own cars, we are all going to try to get to our destination as fast as possible. Just because I live on a road doesn’t mean I should be the only one with privileges to drive on it,” explained May. However, at the end of the day, it brings to light a more prevalent issue: the Centennial Parking lot itself. 

May went into further detail, “The real issue [is] that the vast majority of people coming to Centennial come from that one intersection and that the only way to exit the school parking lot feeds directly back onto that road and is controlled by a light that rarely turns green. I think some ways to solve these problems are [by] giving us another exit from the Centennial parking lot or changing the traffic lights to accommodate the heavy traffic in the morning, maybe using some blinking reds. The number one thing that will help the issue is somehow making it so it’s easier for cars to exit the CHS parking lot as that is what is bottlenecking our whole traffic flow.”

For years, many have wanted a change to the parking lot. Whether it be more exits, entrances, or better traffic lights. Many students and parents have asked for this change; however, a shortcut to school may finally bring the attention needed to this issue.


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