The SPL: Is It a Safe or Scary Place?

Chloe Pszenny, Journalist

For years, the student parking lot at Ipswich High School, better known as the SPL, has been a source of contention. The SPL brings a mutual spot for anyone, specifically students, to come, park, and hangout year round. In addition, students often leave their cars knowing that nothing bad will happen. 

Since the SPL is so popular, I wanted to get an accurate look at its positive and negative aspects. First, I asked if the SPL is safe or scary according to people at IHS? The time of day one visits plays a huge role on the vibe of the SPL. In the morning everyone is getting into school and the only worry is trying to find a spot and getting in the door before 7:45. Though at 2:21, the SPL may be viewed as out of control. Most students are running out to get to their car to speed away before the long traffic line starts to form. Then lastly, the SPL at 4:30-5 is a ghost town most days, unless there is a sporting event going on.

Just like the time of day, the time of year also impacts the SPL. During the sports’ seasons there are fewer students leaving the building at 2:21, so there is less traffic. Though between sports’ seasons the traffic is at its peak of busyness. Everyday is a new adventure in the IHS SPL.

Sports obviously dictate some of the SPL’s peak hours; however, the weather, such as snow and ice, is an enormous factor in determining the safety of the parking lot. New England is known for white winters where the snow towers over our cars and covers the SPL. The company that has plowed our parking lot has done a very poor job the past few years. I asked Lucy Harmon, IHS senior and experienced driver, what her thoughts were about the plowing of the SPL; she answered with, “The SPL is really poorly plowed; a lot of snow makes the SPL messy and hard to drive in.” One winter the SPL was basically cut in half because the plowing was that terrible. Half of the spots were simply gone because the snow wasn’t fully pushed out of the way. “With only a little snow the SPL is usually fine,” says Lucy, but even with any snow and ice the SPL can turn into a scary place.

One of the main concerns though is the new drivers. The stereotype of new drivers is that they are not going to be able to properly function a motor vehicle, at all. Lucy Harmon said, “[The] older sophomores getting their licenses are scary.” Though she also says that she is not scared of them hitting her car. “Students do have the tendency for cutting other students off.” This seems to be Lucy’s biggest concern from people in the parking lot. Some student drivers get “too close for comfort,” she says. Sophomores are more likely to be feral in the SPL due to the lack of experience behind the wheel.

Another issue that has faced the SPL is seniority. Are there designated spots for seniors? Who is in charge? In past years the back row was designated for seniors. Though it was an unwritten rule. Lucy Harmon said when she was a sophomore, “I was worried I would take the spot of an upperclassman.” As for the 2023 seniors, they don’t really have a preference in the spots. “Wherever there is an open spot I’ll just take it,” says Nina Galanis, senior. 

I also asked the people I interviewed if they think that seniors should be able to paint their senior parking spot. Senior Lucy Harmon said, “Yes, because it’s easier to get a spot in the morning as well as when we come back from senior privilege.” Being able to paint your senior parking spot is not only a fun way to end your last year of high school but also provides a function.

The last concern brought up by the IHS student I interviewed was an issue about the parking lot that is not something we can necessarily change or improve, but Lucy Harmon says, “[She] hates having to walk [what feels like a] half a mile to the door everyday to get into school.”

Overall the consensus is that the SPL is overall not a scary place, but rather you just have to watch yourself because you never know when a wild IHS student driver will emerge, a snowstorm will sweep through, or an underclassman will steal your spot.