Vice Principal Matt Hawkins gives thoughts on backpacks and safety concerns

Backpacks have always been a staple at schools. They are used to carry school supplies, whether it be books, folders, papers, binders, pencils, pens and anything else that a student needs. Lockers are used to supplement having a backpack, allowing a student to go back to it to get needed supplies/materials for a particular class. But what happens when students feel they don’t have enough time to go back to their locker? They just carry their backpack.

At Gull Lake, this practice is relatively common. Students head to nearly every class lugging around their backpack. With the recent gun drama, involving an unloaded handgun and bullets found in a student’s backpack,  first thought for most students was that school officials might be eyeing backpacks as their next target for student safety after last year’s new security at the front doors.

Students and administrators have a lot questions to consider when making this decision: How long ago does this practice of carrying backpacks date back to? Did the 1990s or 2000s generation carry their bags around or did they just use their locker? Does this correlate to decreased passing time? Has the passing time ever changed or has it stayed constant? Is having backpacks more of a risk or is it a necessary freedom for students well being and health?

According to assistant Principal Matt Hawkins, in 2008, students were still using their lockers.

“When I was a new teacher here in 2008, they were still using their lockers and backpacks and coats weren’t allowed in the classroom,” Hawkins said.

He acknowledged that a lot of students said that they didn’t have enough time to get to their classes across the school as well as grab items from their lockers.

“I think a lot of kids were complaining that they didn’t have enough time, especially if you went from one end of the school to the other–it is difficult,” he said.

Backpacks are often the easiest way for students to transport necessary supplies and books throughout the school day, but recent national and local events have begged the question: Are backpacks a safety concern? Gull Lake High School administrators are currently weighing the pros and cons of allowing students to carry backpacks. Photo by Lucas Hamilton.

Referring to the gun incident, he said that the school was looking into alternatives to backpacks but that they weren’t ready to commit to one action or another. Though when the district mentioned going back to lockers, there was feedback.

“There’s a lot of outcry when we talk about going back. So we’re looking into everything to make the school safer. That’s really what it’s about,” Hawkins said. “It’s not really about wanting to make the students carry their books and have to hurry. It’s more about safety, and how can we make the school safer.”

He said that the main reason people stopped using their lockers was the difficulty of having to book it across the school to make it to classes on time.

“I think the reason is convenience,” he said. “It’s more convenient for them to be able to carry their books and use that passing time in other ways. When really, its original design was for you to be able to go your locker and get what you needed. And if you can’t make it to your locker and the message that was sent was that you need to plan for that.”

Nonetheless, whatever the reason is for the change in the student body, backpacks continue to be used by students at Gull Lake.


Abigail Stark

Abigail Stark

My name is Abigail Stark. I am a sophomore and a first year staff member. I enjoy writing opinion and review articles, and look forward to a successful year!

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