By Ryan Pike
Managing Editor for Writing and Reporting
“Student use of [electronic] devices during regular school hours is strictly prohibited,” reads the Jamesville-DeWitt High School Student Handbook. However, rules and enforcement have not deterred the students of J-DHS from using their phones to tweet and text to their hearts’ content throughout the strenuous school day.
Some students at J-DHS want the school to change the rules regarding cell phone use in class.“In college you get to have your phone out, and this is a college preparatory [high] school, so why don’t we have our phones out?” junior Tom Canfield asked. However, it’s not as simple as Canfield makes it seem. Many teachers and faculty members find there to be no benefits to phone use. “I don’t see any way that a phone could help you in high school,” admitted Hall Monitor Jim Tuck.
Like Mr. Tuck, not all students at J-DHS are pro-phone. “There’s no need for phones in classes,” said senior Ryan Wright; “You’re there to learn.” Freshman Ryan Mandelis is another student who doesn’t see the value of cell phone use. “Kids will play Subway Surfer on their phone [while] the teacher will be teaching them this important lesson,” he said; “They’ll not know [what was taught] when it comes to the test, they’ll flunk out of high school and they won’t go to college.”
Mandelis’s hypothetical scenario does not scare students off from using their phones in class. Many students say they use their phones in class by hiding it on their desk behind a stack of books. “If people don’t want to pay attention, they won’t pay attention,” said sophomore Brian Cieplicki.
Junior Eric Nuss, who is the Vice President of the school slate, suggested that phones be allowed in the hallways of the school between classes but not during actual learning time. “It gives you a break from all the tedious learning and can help you prepare for a class and look things up that you need to know,” he explained.
Several students suggested that phone use be permitted during lunch periods. “It’s a distraction during class when you’re supposed to be learning, but when you’re in lunch you’re not learning!” said junior Adrianna Sotolongo. Principal Paul Gasparini said phone use in the lunchroom has been discussed, but many issues arise from what many think would be a simple rule change. “It’s far too fluid,” said Mr. Gasparini. He continued to say that he does not want students to claim they are on their way to lunch and therefore get away with using their phone in the hallways. “We don’t want any ambiguity there,” he concluded.
Another potential problem Mr. Gasparini finds with the phones is the issue of test integrity. “It is easy, even for the best student, to look up an answer on their phone,” he stated; “We want to minimize the temptations that students have.” Junior Bora Nanaj said that people already use their phones to cheat, so it shouldn’t be a new concern for administration.
Mr. Gasparini has kept an open mind when it comes to using new technology in the classroom. “Obviously there are ways to use the phone for positive educational purposes,” Mr. Gasparini affirmed; “We’ve been having a lot of discussions internally about how they’re used. The question becomes, ‘should we allow non-educational use of the phone?’ We believe that its important for students to be focused in class, especially on the work in front of them. We want to minimize distractions.”
Students believe that they can focus in class despite the potential distraction. “Your grades are on you,” said sophomore Adrian Autry; “If you have all your work done and want to use your phone, go ahead and use your phone. The grades are gonna reflect whether you pay attention or not.” “You can use an iPhone for good things besides just texting,” said freshman Grayson Burns. Burns is right; all the quotes used in this article were recorded on an iPhone. Junior Chris McGee agrees with Burns. “Phones can actually help you,” he said; “They help with notes, they help answer questions and they can be a planner.” “Looking things up in the dictionary takes too long!” complained junior Sam Mignacca; “You can just Google it.”