The locker can represent many things for high school students: a center of social interaction, a means of self-expression, that one little area of school that is wholly and entirely theirs. At its most basic, the locker is a storage unit, a place for students to keep books and other supplies so that they don’t have to lug heavy backpacks to school everyday. And yet in many schools the locker is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
There are many reasons for its elimination, according to Ronnie McGehee, interim superintendent of the Madison County School District in Mississippi, where many of the schools are going lockerless. The first benefit, says Dr. McGehee, is in student safety. Eliminating lockers alleviates concern “that students were putting things in there that they shouldn’t,” such as weapons or drugs.
It also helps improve attitudes, relieving congestion in hallways and breaking up student cliques and hierarchies. According to Dr. McGehee, “It helps create a more student-friendly environment as opposed to, ‘I’m above you, I’m locker 101 and you’re locker 102.’” Plus, he adds, the extra space “means they can cohabitate without stepping on each other’s feet and getting mad at each other.”
Some schools that have adopted this system are facing criticism from parents, who argue that it results in heavier backpacks for students. But administrators like Dr. McGehee are working on a solution to that, by looking toward new technology. Dr McGehee says he is ”heavily investigating the possibility of some kind of unit, whether it’s a Kindle or a Nook or some kind of tablet” in order to ease the burden on the student population.