The Parking Lot Experience


As any current or former raptor could enthusiastically tell you, the parking lot is a problem. Routinely, day after day, the queue to the single exit leading off Bonds-Wilson campus backs up to such a severe degree that even removing student’s vehicles from their spots, designated by a faded white number, stark against the hot black asphalt which cooks students bold enough to delay the entrance to their vehicle in favor of conversation, becomes difficult. Making it out of your parking spot at 3:30, 3:31, or 3:32 is smooth sailing, getting out of the parking lot before congestion appears and avoiding the beginnings of rush hour traffic; home free!  However, those lucky, or speedy, individuals are few and far between. Composing only a small minority of the what seems like millions of cars who deign to pass through the sole exit off campus to West Enterprise Street. 


Expected relief promised by the end of a daily struggle which comprises an academic day is counteracted by the mounting anxiety as the clock ticks towards 3:30. Those with an undeveloped sense of shame can be seen sprinting towards their automotive transports, astutely aware of the impending deadline which separates the get-home-earlys from the get-home-lates. Their anxiety is alleviated, but for the vast majority of students, it is met with an unfortunate reality: waiting. Caged in by concrete barriers and parents eager to disrupt the carefully cultivated culture of zippering, there is no choice but to resign to a half an hour of purgatory.


These parking lot problems, which serve as an acute re-awakening for the current juniors and seniors whose experiences had been temporarily forgotten by a year of early outs, cannot help but conjure memories of the past. Personally, every time I contemplate whether or not the parking lot is really such a problem, I am snapped back to the truth encapsulated in one image: Emma Heeke on the move, heels in hand. The seriousness required of such an event cannot be overstated. As Ms. Pinckney is quick to lament, Magnet’s favorite time wasting endeavor has gotten worse over the years. There are no longer enough allocatable parking spots to meet the increased demand. The Academic Magnet was not designed to handle such a load. Former CCSD Director of Transportation Curtis Norman gave me the inside scoop, “The school was not designed for so many students to drive to school. The man who designed the campus and parking situation envisioned it as a primarily Carpool and Bus Riding school.” In other words, from the very beginning, our afternoon dismissal has been doomed to failure. Our founders had no foresight. 


The end of day four wheeled exit jenga is not just an inconvenience, but a danger to the health and wellbeing of the Raptor community. In the few weeks that have elapsed since the start of the 2021-2022 school year, multiple low speed collisions have already occurred on campus. Senior McKenna Ronchetto remarked, “Every day I fear for my life and personal wellbeing. It goes beyond selfish concern too. If I were to get hurt, who would take care of Josh and Mason?” Fellow senior Garret Ziegler agreed, voicing his concern that “people resort to reckless driving very quickly.” Another Raptor simply began shaking with rage when asked for comment, before uttering “Parents. Not even once,” unable to even give their name for accreditation. Parents, despite being privileged to the fast moving carpool lanes, insist on joining the line in the student lots, seemingly intent on adding kindling to the eternal flame of teenage angst. Ignoring the exclamations of the dearly beloved Mrs. Roop manifests itself as the favorite pastime of middle aged parents. Students take the distaste of traffic flow interruption far more seriously than even the faculties shouting would suggest. One student, who has requested anonymity for fear of divine retribution, admitted that they “Cut off my pastor with no regrets. If this sends me to hell it will have been worth it.” All this aroused anger, anxiety, depression, disappointment, and rage begs the question: surely there must be a better way?


Any alleviation to the prolific parking puzzle which infects the minds and hearts of otherwise warmhearted raptors with a whirlwind of emotions daily would be greatly appreciated in the Academic Magnet community. If the (former) number one school in the nation can’t figure out the logistics of a simple traffic jam, what will the future entail? If the world of my children involves hours of delayed commute due to bureaucratic and engineering failure, is that a world I want to live in? Students, when asked for comment, were unable to come up with any suggestions, instead claiming that “The suggestion of a solution to an issue of such complexity would require a degree in civil and social engineering to even begin to consider.” While waiting on action to reconcile students and their homes in a more timely manner, there is only one option. One which remains all too familiar to veterans of the Academic Magnet community; wait.