An eight-foot tall iron fence, consisting of square steel posts with tube steel rails, now runs from the cafeteria to the annex (42 ft), from the top of the annex to the 1979 building (80 ft), and from the 1979 building to the PE building (20 ft), according to FCPS Area Building Manager Fred Lester. The goal is to close off the courtyard and make FHS a safer place.
Since he first came to FHS, Principal Tripp Burton has been concerned with the safety risks that the open campus generates.
“From the first time I walked around this building in the spring of 2013, this bothered me,” Burton said. “[The fence] makes us safer. I want students to feel safer in the interior area. The fence will give us less area we have to supervise.”
Students taking classes in the horticulture building are directly affected by the fence, which costs approximately $30,000. Since the gate is locked during school hours, students must go through the annex to get to their classes. Freshman Somer Kelly has to travel to the horticulture building for homeroom.
“I hate the fence,” Kelly said. “I go straight through the courtyard and walk around the annex to get to homeroom, and when they put up the gates, I will have to go out of my way and take the longer route through the annex. I wish they spent the money on the bathrooms [in the horticulture building].”
Junior Daniel Thomas has homeroom and fourth block in the horticulture building.
“It’s stupid,” Thomas said. “It takes more time for me to get to class and defeats the purpose of the open courtyard.”
Other students have more positive opinions about the fence. Sophomore Parker Culver feels safer with the courtyard fenced off.
“The fence makes the campus look classier; it’s a brand new, shiny fence and makes the courtyard safer,” Culver said. “It makes our school look better and shows that they’re trying to protect us. Anyone could have just walked in through the back parking lot and be right in the middle of our school. I really like it.”
According to Burton, the purpose of the fence is not to keep students in, but to keep intruders out.
“It’s not about trying to keep kids in; they will always find ways to leave campus,” Burton said. “The gate will be open in the afternoon for kids to leave, but it might not even be open in the morning because we have the main door.”
Senior Alex Parker doesn’t believe that the fence will serve the intended purpose to keep intruders out.
“Do they really not think that we can take care of ourselves? What does this fence do besides waste taxpayer’s money? Not a single thing.” Parker said. “If someone wanted their way into the school that badly, it would be easy.”
Although the fence has received some negative feedback from the students, Burton emphasized its purpose is to help ensure safety.
“It is extremely worrisome for a school administrator because anyone could walk in here. It is not supposed to give us any type of ‘prison effect’ or anything. It’s all for security,” Burton said. “That’s my number one job, to make sure we’re as safe as possible all the time. Now the entire interior that makes Fauquier High School unique is safe.”
~madeleine lohr, staff reporter