Changes don’t stop at construction


Carey Wooley

With the constant flow of traffic surrounding Bowie, accidents are bound to happen. Wolftrap and the garage being the main areas these collisions occur.

Carey Wooley, Print Managing Editor

Student Behavior

The past four years at Bowie have been full of unprecedented changes. From new parking facilities to brand new student behavior policies, the student body has had to adapt to the new expectations set by Bowie’s administration.

Starting on August 15 new protocols regarding ID badges, who can leave campus, and stricter bathroom passes were introduced. These protocols were strictly enforced, especially the ID policy, by Bowie administration and teachers.

“The leadership team and I kept hearing how the bathrooms are unsafe, so we’ve cracked down on restrooms,” assistant principal Paulette Walls said. “It’s still not perfect, and there’s still people that squeak through cracks but I hope it’s been better for kids and we’re getting some response from kids that they are thankful.”

According to the Institute of Education Sciences 56% of K-12 grade schools that responded reported increased incidents of classroom disruption and overall rowdiness last year. To combat that, Bowie’s leadership team has been taking action to have more contact with students.

“I think the administration is pretty fair towards students’ behavior,” junior Lilly Ruxer said. “I think there has been a change in student behavior but I believe it has gotten worse and stricter policies on behavior have been set in place.”

In other reports done by the National Center for Education Statistics reported that over 70 percent of schools had students missing over 10 percent of the school year last year. Attendance became a major issue nationwide.

“One of the things counseling has been doing is just getting information to the students,” counselor April Giuffre said. “Counseling is also doing these freshman seminars. We are trying to be proactive to prevent things from happening, instead of being purely reactive.”

Counseling’s main goal this year has been to open communication with students and educate everyone so they can gain the support they need. In light of recent news, Bowie’s administration put together a presentation to educate students on drug use.

“Last Friday, because it’s such a big issue at our school, there was a substance use presentation in an extended FIT and for any students that have our first period we’re gonna present in the theater, but I think  we’re just trying to really be more proactive this year,” Giuffre said.

Even with the increased communication between the counseling department and students there are still incidents the administration is concerned about.

“I think that the freshmen still have some work to do, behavior-wise,” Giuffre said. “I know there’s a really big issue with vaping in the restrooms, including our gender neutral restrooms. But other than that, it seems to be like students are getting more of the hang of being back in school.”

According to the CDC it was found that over three million high school and middle schoolers were using E-cigarettes or vapes in 2020. That statistic continues to rise in schools all over the country.

“We have a club here run by Ms. Rolfe called SAGA, which stands for sexuality and gender acceptance,” Giuffre said. “They created flyers in response to students vaping in the gender neutral bathroom to put out there and help spread the word.”

The gender neutral bathroom was added on campus to give queer students a safe space they could have. Several students reported feeling unsafe in the bathroom as others were using it as a place to “hang out” and smoke.

“This is a safe space for our students who are non-binary or transgender,” Giuffre said. “It was made for them, please don’t abuse that. It’s pretty disrespectful that that’s happening and it’s sad that students don’t feel like they can safely go to the restroom. So we definitely want to squash that immediately.”

Student Driving

Other changes on campus starting this year included the introduction of RFID tags and off periods being moved to the first and last periods of the day to try and control traffic.

On campus constant traffic has always been an ongoing issue. Bowie administration has tried to fix this problem the last couple years with the change in off periods, the finished garage, and the addition of A lot.

“I feel as if the traffic at Bowie has improved slightly,” senior Morgan Winter said. “With the creation of more lots, cars are more spread out, limiting some traffic. Last year it took me at least 20 minutes to get out of Bowie, but now it only takes 10 minutes.”

With the constant flow of traffic surrounding Bowie, accidents are bound to happen. Wolftrap and the garage being the main areas these collisions occur.

“We will start getting reports to the front office right away of somebody witnessing a crash and we immediately outsource the police officers depending upon the proximity to the campus the police officers will connect with APD if necessary,” Walls said. “Counselors will generally be kind of dispatched to or they will respond just because we don’t know what state a student will be in.”

Giuffre witnessed one of these accidents on Wolftrap and due to her proximity to the accident, she was the first one on the scene. According to her, when she arrived at Bowie and saw the crash she immediately parked so she could help the students involved. As a counselor, she began assisting the students, making sure they were ok, and alerting the Austin police as well as the school.

“Counselors go to the scene and we make sure to call our SROs or school resource officers right away,” Giuffre said. “They can either call Austin ISD police or just Austin police just to make sure they get on the scene soon. And then obviously, the first thing really would be to make sure that the student involved was okay and safe.”

Another area of campus that has been known to have several accidents is the church lot. There are two exits for this lot and both requires students to merge into a lane one of which involves an unprotected left turn.

“I don’t personally know of anyone getting in a serious accident at Bowie,” Winter said. “I do know at Bethany last year there were multiple accidents at the back exit as the traffic turning left there is really bad.”

Last year off periods could be any period of the day and were not confined to the first and last periods of the day. This year however, Bowie administration changed the periods students could have off periods to hopefully reduce traffic and the flow of students in the hallways. Bowie wanted to ensure that it is quieter in the hallways during class so that teachers and students were not distracted.

“The 2019-2020 school year was my first year at Bowie and coming from another high school campus, it was always peculiar to me that during the middle of the day you would have kids throughout the building and then when you talk to them they say they have an off period,” Walls said. “But it was my understanding there had always been a desire to move off periods to the beginning and the end of day one because it benefits kids.”

In the mornings traffic backs up on Slaughter lane as parents try to drop off their children at the front of the school. People that live in the neighborhoods surrounding Bowie also try to leave which can affect the traffic flow. In the afternoon there is also the added traffic of students rushing to leave campus as well as parents waiting in line to pickup.

“Last year was my first year at Bowie,” Giuffre said. “I definitely will say the traffic is really bad in the mornings and the afternoons. So I try to actually avoid it. I get here earlier than when traffic starts and I leave later when it ends.”