Unsupervised campus access points remain a safety concern

Stranger Danger: One of two gates (left) connecting Bear Creek to Julia Morgan is left wide open and unsupervised during school hours, permitting Bear Creek students to leave campus and outsiders to enter campus. Despite the sign posted on each gate at Bear Creek reminding students to not open the gate for anyone (right), some students still open the gate for teachers and fellow students.

Michael Thomas

Stranger Danger: One of two gates (left) connecting Bear Creek to Julia Morgan is left wide open and unsupervised during school hours, permitting Bear Creek students to leave campus and outsiders to enter campus. Despite the sign posted on each gate at Bear Creek reminding students to not open the gate for anyone (right), some students still open the gate for teachers and fellow students.

Michael Thomas, Staff Writer

When the gates that enclose BCHS were installed in 2002, most staff and students believed they would deter outsiders from accessing the campus. While the gates likely limit access to campus, there are still points on school grounds where an outsider could enter — whether by jumping a private gate from a bordering house, requesting gate entrance from a student or entering through unsupervised gates adjacent to neighboring school Julia Morgan.

Bear Creek has four gates on its northside, four on its southside and five on the east side. Although these gates are all locked from the outside, they can typically be opened upon request from an obliging student.

“I basically see students open the gates anytime I’m near them,” junior Isaac Barney said. “I’ve opened them myself before.”

Campus Supervisor Eric Cervantes says that it’s difficult for the limited number of campus supervisors to keep the entire campus safe.

“It’s a large campus and there’s only four [Campus Su- pervisors],” Cervantes said. “It’s a lot for four people to cover.”

Despite the signs posted on the interior of BC gates, which read “Do not open this gate for anyone. All visitors must check-in at the front office,” teachers whose classrooms are adjacent to the gates have noticed students disobeying these signs.

“[Students letting people in] is really bad — usually [during] first period and after lunch,” English teacher Karen Minick said. “When there is someone walk- ing by, [students aren’t] even reading the sign; kids just open it.”

Administrators and campus supervisors are rarely able to catch students letting people in and don’t typically assign punishment on their first offense. As

a result, it’s unlikely students will receive serious consequences for allowing strangers to enter the campus.

“If we’re able to catch it, typically we have conversations with students,” Asst. Principal Julie Hummel said. “We can assign behavior intervention if it [continues]. It could go into an in-school suspension.”

Other than the gate issue, the backyards of numerous homes serve as the border of the campus. Those who live in said homes have reported easily hopping the fence to get to class earlier and access school events for free.

“I used [my backyard] a lot my freshman year to get to morning practice and to get to class quicker,” Bear Creek alumna Marissa Rodriguez, whose house borders Bear Creek, said. “The entire football team would see me entering before practice — including the coaches — and no one really cared. I think I also used it to get into a game for free once.”

In addition to its on-campus gates, Bear Creek also has two gates that connect the campus to neighboring elementary school campus Julia Morgan. One gate poses a particular threat to safety; this entrance leads directly to Bear Creek’s baseball fields and is often left unsupervised. This gate, just off AG Spanos Road, has been observed to be left completely open on some occasions.

“[There’s] a lot of cracks in our school that people can get through,” senior Julia Dundas said. “I try not to think about it because I spiral with worry.”