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Phones go "off and away"

Recent changes to the cell phone policy cause students to defend their mobile devices

Math teacher Mr. Jones has students put their phones in the bin before a test. | Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia

Around Holt High School students and teachers believed that next year, phones will be removed throughout the school day. Turns out all of those statements were rumors. All of the questioning began just days after social media was blocked on the school-adminstrated Wi-Fi network.

Junior Jacob Toomey believes this would cause a outrage and that phones have now become a necessity in life.

“I think it is terrible. Phones are such an individual part of society today. Everyone has a phone, everything is on your phone now... for some people, the school is the only place they use it because they don’t have Wi-Fi at home,” said Toomey.

Toomey has the same opinion as many students at Holt, but principal Mr. Michael Willard also has a response to what will happen next year with the phone policy.

“We are not banning cell phones. There is no way we could do that. We are looking to clarify the rules. We were becoming more relaxed with the rules and now we are looking to become [a school that has] an ‘off and away’ policy,” said Willard.

Although the students next year will have phones, they still will have their social media blocked on the district Wi-Fi network. Social studies teacher Corey Martin feels that students should not need social media during the school day as it does not serve educational purposes.

“What are you doing on social media that is productive for learning? Nothing. Do we have internet for social media? No. The internet exists here to serve your learning interests and if those sites don’t serve your interests as learning does, then why do you need access?” said Martin.

Spanish teacher Brooke Murphy agrees with Martin. She feels the phones are not needed in the school day and that students should be more present mentally with what is going on around them, outside of their phone.

“I think kids need to remember that we can have face-to-face conversations. Also, you can only do your best when you are not distracted… phones are driving us teachers crazy,” said Murphy.

Teachers like Murphy agree that students are not talking to those around them and instead are “stuffing” their face in their phones. English teacher Jason Smith is someone who agrees with Murphy, as he wants Holt to have a learning environment.

“I feel like if we wanted a learning school culture, we can’t because the cell phones are ruining that,” said Smith.

Teachers like Smith would say phones are ruining the school environment, but to some people, it isn’t just the social media aspect, it’s more about the educational uses of phones in the school.

Students like junior Dakota Hunt do not have a cellular data plan. Hunt uses his phone for multiple academic reasons, and now, those opportunities are gone and he feels that the school is targeting poor people.

“It was not the social media aspect of it; it was the non-educational websites. It is discriminatory to all poor people who A) cannot afford data plans and B) that come to use the school WiFi,” said Hunt.

Willard sees it differently than Hunt. He views the new changes as more of a training for students so they will be ready for the “next stage” in their lives.

“Electronics have become a distraction and our job is to prepare for the next stage... We are not bashing cell phones — all have them and I’m sure mine is going off right now,” said Willard.

I feel like if we wanted a learning school culture, we can’t because the cell phones are ruining that

Toomey has a different perspective on how the new changes won’t make students ready for the “next stage.”

“It’s not going to prepare us for the real world because nobody is going to be looking over your shoulder telling you that your work needs to be done.” said Toomey?

Toomey also believes that if students are responsible with their grades and their work, they should be allowed to use their phones.

“As long you are getting your work done and getting good grades, it shouldn’t matter,” said Toomey.

Willard believes phones are distracting students but, also everyone is just struggling with changes in technology. Technology may be moving faster than people in the world are adapting to the technology given.

“I think technology is just so new we are trying to adapt to everything being at our fingertips. An iPhone nowadays has more memory than the first laptop I bought in college. We are just entering a society that it has become a norm and we are just trying to figure out what we do with it.”

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