Thomas Jefferson

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Troubles Off Campus

Posted 02/22/2023 by Mattie Brightwell

Students visit the local 7/11 and other businesses nearly every day during off periods and lunch, and TJ emphasizes how important it is to remain respectful while doing so. photo by Shana Saint-Phard

In the past few years, businesses have dealt with unruly behavior from students in several schools across Colorado – including TJ.

One of the many added benefits of being a high schooler is the privilege of getting to go off campus for lunch, off-periods, and other breaks during the school day. Whether you have a car or you are willing to walk, there’s something great about getting to leave the Thomas Jefferson campus to go pick up coffee from the Starbucks off Happy Canyon, or maybe a burrito and a soda from Chipotle, if it’s worth the extra time.

However, it’s expected of students that while they’re off campus they remain on their best and most civil behavior. This means safe driving, staying off neighbor’s lawns while walking, absolutely zero shoplifting, and showing overall general respect towards their community. Teachers and staff have often reminded students through the Spartan Edition and during school assemblies at the beginning of the year that even if they aren’t on campus, they’re still TJ students, and it’s crucial that they don’t do anything that might fall back on the school. 

In the past, students have been chastised for unruly and rude behaviors in public. While significantly less than some other schools across DPS and Cherry Creek districts, TJ has still received calls in the past from surrounding businesses like the 7/11 or the Starbucks that ask staff to remind students that rude behavior and stealing will not be tolerated. Andrew Skari, Assistant Principal and leader of the Student Excellence Team (SET), recalled that a majority of the reports he’s received were about behavioral problems. “I’ve only really received about two shoplifting reports. They’re mostly calls about rude behavior.” He stated, “What’s troubling for me is when I hear that an employee will try and correct their behavior and will be verbally abused by our students.”

The 7/11, after a few incidents years ago, employed a rule that decided TJ students weren’t allowed inside with their backpacks, and no more than three students at a time could be in the store in order to prevent shoplifting and vandalism. Skari pointed out that 7/11 is extremely mindful of the fact that most of the issues are from individuals instead of the entire student body. The rules have lightened and become less strict as the years have gone on, though some are still weary of students when they enter. 

Luckily, TJ has struggled less than other schools with issues of disrespectful behaviors off campus. Most students who enter businesses during lunch times or off periods are responsible and kind to employees and other patrons. But across Colorado, some other schools that haven’t had such luck. 

Back in 2021, several news reports touched on business owners banning Cherry Creek High School students from their establishments. Due to vandalism, rudeness towards employees, lack of regard for others inside, and foul language, the school sent out letters to Cherry Creek parents that stated restricted access or flat-out bans on students. The nearby King Soopers dealt with a lot of the issues, with shoplifting being a majority. Their employees also reported experiencing rudeness. Some local businesses even display the student code of conduct in their windows. 

It’s important that whenever you find yourself off campus that you respect the places you go. “Stay on the sidewalks, don’t leave trash laying around, don’t smoke at all, especially not on people’s lawns.” Skari reminds. “Students represent their families and their school when they’re off campus.”

Local businesses, especially small ones, are a part of the community just as much as TJ is. Whether school is in session or not, kindness and upstanding behavior is the minimum of expected decency– employees of businesses should be treated politely. Make sure to say thank you, and certainly be sure that you’re acting like a good person in the spaces you visit. Remember to do your part in order to keep the TJ student body welcome in our local businesses!