The last place one might expect to find students during their holiday break is at school.
But for several HHS students, the school parking lot is hard to resist.
HHS Principal Bob Cotter told The Ville News that loitering and trash in the lot had become a big problem in recent years but had gotten better – until last month’s Thanksgiving break when the parking lot again became a hangout.
“I believe it is more former students, college friends coming back and getting together,” Cotter said. “I think it’s two-thirds former students and one-third of our kids.”
He’s hoping the renewed interest in the parking lot was a one-time thing and not a return to the days when he said he and former football Coach Bruce Hatfield would have to spend hours cleaning up after students.
“People would leave everything – everything,” he emphasized. “We would find alcohol, beer cans, marijuana, paraphernalia. There were lots of other things that I don’t want to go into but should not be found in a high school parking lot … it’s an embarrassment.”
And it wasn’t only trash, either. Damage was done to the visitor bleachers, and there were complaints of drag racing and other inappropriate behavior.
Police stepped up patrols and signs were posted against loitering, and the problem got better.
Senior Presley Eastwood said much of the activity these days is caused by kids using the lot as a meeting place. They might spend 15 or 20 minutes there while making plans for the evening.
“It’s a central location, so it’s a good meeting place,” Eastwood said. “Everyone knows where it is, and they’re comfortable leaving their car there.”
Eastwood used to hang out in the parking lot regularly when she was a sophomore. Back then, she said, there might be more than a dozen vehicles at a time behind the visitor bleachers with people listening to music and talking. She said she never saw anyone smoking pot or drinking alcohol.
She quit hanging out there after Cotter began telling students to stop, and she thinks most of her peers did the same. She occasionally still uses the lot as a place to meet up with friends before carpooling to an away game or to some other outing.
“When I drive by there, I don’t see as many cars as I used to,” Eastwood said.
Story by Gracie Eastman and Elana Giordani