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The (Controversial) Cell Phone Policy of SHS

Sutton High School has made strides to better manage cell phones for students

Coming back from summer vacation, many students were upset to hear about the cell phone policy. But Sutton High School believes there are good reasons to limit phones.

“Over the past few years, we have been increasingly concerned that our students’ relationship to their cell phones and social media is getting in the way,” said principal Ted McCarthy in a recent school wide email. Many teachers of Sutton High feel the same way. It’s difficult to teach students who are distracted in class.

Repurposed calculator holder now used as a phone “parking lot’ (Philip Ostrowski)

Just last year, the school introduced “cell phone parking lots.” These are repurposed calculator holders, now used for holding phones during class. Sutton High School staff worked together to make the decision to implement these, as many students would use their phones during class despite the rules stating otherwise. It is the school’s goal to help students become more successful by putting away distractions in the classroom.

This year, the restriction on when and where students are allowed to use their phones during class time has changed, too. If a student is found using their phone in the hall or bathroom, it will be taken away from them. Students are now instructed by their teachers to always leave their phones in the classroom if they leave for any reason. Phones are only allowed during free time like SPP (student productive period), advisory, or lunch, unless permission is given.

The current cell phone policy also lets each teacher decide how phones will be managed when teaching in class. This gives teachers a chance to have a discussion with their students, to hopefully better understand how to manage electronics in the classroom setting.

Over the past few years, we have been increasingly concerned that our students’ relationship to their cell phones and social media is getting in the way

— Principal Ted McCarthy

In the previously mentioned email, Principal McCarthy wrote that “I believe what we are really doing is encouraging and supporting kids on focusing on the things that matter in school – learning, relationships, and working on maximizing the opportunities they have each day to grow and learn.” This sentiment is the driving force of the decisions made regarding phones here at school.

This year SHS has partnered with Digital Detox, a company who creates weekly newsletters, hosts “experiences” like Camp Grounded and Unplugged Nights, and works actively with schools or groups to teach how phone use affects people. “We want people to benefit from technology while remaining connected to yourself and your fellow humans.” Sutton High School believes in this vision too, as technology becomes increasingly more integrated with the daily lives of many.

Preview of the Digital Detox questionnaire (Philip Ostrowski)

Digital Detox also provided SHS with a helpful survey for students. The survey gives students questions about their phone use, their attitude towards technology, and how they feel it affects them in daily life. At the end of the survey, it gives each student a score ranging from 0-120, 0 meaning phone use is of little concern, and 120 meaning major concern with the student’s cell phone usage. This survey could certainly be a wake-up call for many students, or be reassuring that they are okay.

Digital Detox will be coming to the school talking to students, faculty, and parents on September 21st. Sutton School’s goal is to “arrive at a place where we can develop the best policy and practices for our students” as mentioned in a recent email.

Sutton High School hopes to have a more healthy relationship with technology, and do its best to mitigate distractions. From phones, to AirPods and computers, there are an abundance of ways students can prevent themselves from seizing the opportunities for growth and learning around them.

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About the Contributor
Philip Ostrowski
Philip Ostrowski, Staff Reporter
My name is Philip Ostrowski and I am a senior at Sutton High School. I run cross country, track, and I am a Boy Scout. I have learned many new skills and have experienced many new things as a scout. A hobby of mine is programming, and I often use it to make video games. I also appreciate the outdoors, and love to go biking, hiking, and camping.

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    Lynne BannonOct 21, 2023 at 9:55 am

    This is a great article. I didn’t know the high school was doing this, and I think it will be a positive experience. As much as cell phones are valuable and useful, it is a balancing act to know when they are interfering or taking the place of social interactions. Adults have a lot to learn as well. Your article touches on many important points. I look forward to hearing updates as to how it is going!
    Mrs. Bannon