Why we should use our lockers again


Two students posted a photo on social media wearing splotches of a black facial mask captioned with the N-word. Police officials are investigating the photo as a hate-bias incident.

By Maddy Frank

My backpack weighs 22 pounds that’s more than the weight of a spare tire, a 24 pack of Coke or a healthy two year old. And according to CNN, that’s too high a percentage of my body weight, and it’s damaging my back and spine.

Back injuries from heavy backpacks are the result of a lack of locker space and an ever-increasing amount of homework and textbooks, Time Magazine reports. At Whitman, we certainly face the latter issue: there’s definitely a large homework and textbook load. But we’re lucky enough not to have to face the former. By actively avoiding using the lockers that line our halls, we choose to face it.

Whitman students haven’t used lockers in at least a decade, principal Alan Goodwin said. To protect our backs and lighten our load, we should start again. Students should be encouraged to store their backpacks, coats and heavy belongings inside the lockers that they are assigned on their first day of freshman year.

Backpacks should only be 10 percent of our body weight, the American Occupational Therapy Association reports. But with all the textbooks, folders, lunches, sports equipment and water bottles on our backs, this number seems like wishful thinking.

Holding too much weight can hurt a student’s posture, spine and growth. As a result, the student might have to live with back issues for the rest of his or her life. If some of those school supplies were put in a locker when they weren’t needed like putting the sports equipment in a locker first thing in the morning — many of those back problems could be avoided or at least alleviated.

At Whitman, many students also don’t wear a coat to school because they’d have nowhere to put it, sophomore Molly Rothschild said. As temperatures drop outside, we shouldn’t have to think twice about wearing a coat to protect us from the cold temperatures. Encouraging locker use will help everyone stay warm and eliminate concerns about carrying around a bulky winter coat every day.

Students on sports teams can have access to the lockers in team rooms, and a lot of them use those lockers to store coats, but students who don’t play sports don’t have that access, junior Sophie Slater said. This puts the students who don’t participate in athletic activities at a disadvantage.

Many students argue that locker use is unreasonable because of limited time between classes. But students would only really need to access their lockers once or twice per day. If students stay organized enough, then they may only have to visit our lockers during lunch, or at the start and the end of school. Students can also ask for lockers on multiple floors, said Dr. Goodwin. If someone wants to store some of their belongings in a locker on the third floor, and some of it on the first floor, they can apply for that. If convenience is the biggest issue regarding lockers, then there are simple solutions to prevent students from risking their physical health.

Back problems are too prevalent an issue among teens. If the school assigns students lockers and begin recommending their use, we’ll be able to take some of the unnecessary weight off our shoulders.