Houghton HS changes cell phone policy

HOUGHTON – Most days during lunch, Houghton High School 11th-grader David LaCross uses his cell phone, checking Fox News or texting his parents.

“I use it for just about everything,” he said.

And unlike last year, he’s not in danger of having it taken away.

For the first time this fall, Houghton’s middle and high school students have been able to use cell phones and other portable electronic devices during lunch. It’s gone well enough that the school board is looking to make it permanent.

The Houghton-Portage Township Schools Board of Education held a first reading of the revised policy at a special meeting Friday. A second reading and vote will follow at a regular meeting.

Both administrators and students are happy so far with the policy.

“We think it’s the way to go some are reading, some are playing games, some are making contacts with their parents, and it’s saving the office some time,” said Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil.

High School Principal Patrick Aldrich and Middle School Principal Julie Filpus agreed the revised policy has been successful.

Students talked to during lunch Friday all supported the change.

LaCross said the revised policy also has benefits in class, as he’s better able to talk about current events with teachers and other students. He would also like to see the policy broadened to allow use between classes.

“I think it should be up to the teachers,” he said.

Twelfth-grader Spencer Donnelly uses it in several ways: texting girls, taking photos of friends, using social media sites and even sending messages to his parents.

“If you need to text your dad, like ‘Hey, I need money after class,’ you can do it, instead of doing it in class and getting it taken away,” he said.

Listening to music – usually blues or jazz – is the main draw for ninth-grader Victoria Francois. She also supports making the policy permanent.

“It gives everybody a feeling of more freedom, so it feels less restricted,” she said.

Like LaCross, 10th-grader John Taylor uses his phone to keep up with the news.

“It shows our school is keeping up with how technology is changing,” he said.

There is no change at the elementary school, where students can only use devices before and after school.

“Maybe someday – who knows,” Klingbeil said.

“Probably, the way it’s going,” said vice president Brad Baltensperger.