to be done by the fall. The district is paying for the project with
special improvement funds.
Despite some student remarks to Welsh about the fencing turning
the school into a "prison," he and school staff think the project
will accomplish two positive goals -- to make it more difficult for
people who don't belong on campus to get in, and to deter students
who might be tempted to leave during the school day from doing so.
"This is another way to keep kids accountable for the business of
attending school," Welsh said. "We always want to do our best to
ensure that we have a safe campus, and [the fencing] helps us with
that a bit more. We want to enhance safety, improve attendance and
keep any bad people out."
The school has not seen a significant rise or decline in student
truancies this year or in recent years, and the school has not had
recent problems with people trying to sneak onto campus, Welsh said.
The school implemented a new tardiness policy this year to deal with
slight increases in students being late to class.
Three murders on or near Hoover's campus in the past six years are
a constant reminder to school administrators that student safety is
always a priority, Welsh said.
A Hoover student was stabbed to death in 1996 after school in
Brand Park and a 15-year-old boy was shot to death in 1999 during an
after-school fight at Hoover. The following year, Raul Aguirre was
stabbed to death across the street, in front of Toll Middle School.
The Hoover fence project is part of a districtwide safety project
designed to restrict or limit public access to elementary, middle and
high school properties. New fencing has been installed recently at
Rosemont and Roosevelt middle schools, and new fencing will be
installed this year at Clark Magnet High School, officials said.
Glenwood Road, Olmsted Drive, School Street and a driveway that
runs alongside the school's auditorium form the four boundaries of
Barbed-wire fencing now lines portions of the School Street side
of campus along the school's baseball field, and fencing as high as
16 feet now runs along the back of the school's football field,
Welsh, after talking with Hoover's school resource officers and
campus maintenance employees, decided that the front of the school
along Glenwood and the west side of the campus next the auditorium
were areas that needed additional fencing.
A long stretch of classrooms that face Glenwood do not have any
fencing in front of them that would keep students from leaving or
visitors from walking onto campus.
Hoover students have mixed reactions to fences at the school.
"I think it's a really good idea," said Lilit Muradyan, a junior
at Hoover. "Kids will be more into their education because they know
there is no way out of the school."
Azi Yapundzhyan thinks it's relatively easy for students to sneak
in and out of the school as it is now.
"At first, it will feel like a prison," said Azi, 14. "I think
it's probably pretty easy to get in now, so it might be weird, but
it's probably a good idea."