Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Keep Senior Parking Spots

Photo By Rebecca Smith
Senior Ajee Brooks paints the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo on her spot with the phrase “Zoinks this spot is taken by Ajee”. The design matched her keychain and is a catch-phrase she uses.

Here at Rio Americano, we are facing the biggest first-world problem. The San Juan Unified School District is attempting to take away every senior’s most prized possession, their senior parking spots.

Every year, on the first weekend of the school year, seniors convene in the parking lot to paint designated parking spots that they purchased. It is a day that brings the Rio Americano community together, the first tradition that kicks off the seniors’ last year at our high school.

Each student who purchased a parking spot at the end of their junior year gets an 8 feet by 4 feet plot of asphalt to turn it into their little sanctuary for the year.

Students have to clean their spots first, then sketch out their painting and spend hours researching the design that perfectly represents them.

Principal Cliff Kelly described the experience as “a way for students to feel connected to the school.”

It is a tedious process; some families are at the parking lot for six to eight hours that day, but that does not stop the next generation of seniors from diving into this task.

Senior class president Shea Enochian called this ritual “the highlight of every senior’s year.”

This school year may be the last that seniors are able to paint their parking spots. This coveted and long-standing tradition is not inclusive enough, according to the school district.

They argue that not everyone can afford to purchase the $120 spot and that there are not enough spots for all seniors at the school.

The paradox of this issue is that the funds raised from selling senior parking spots are used for Safe and Sober Graduation Night. The funds subsidize the cost of the graduation event for students who can’t pay for it.

Last year, senior parking spot reservations generated over $17,000 in revenue. By taking away this important school fundraiser, the school district will strip the PTSA of one of its main funding sources.

Rio Americano generates more than double the revenue from senior parking spot sales than any other school in the San Juan Unified School District. This allows the PTSA to function effectively and plan many social gatherings and other fun events for students.

According to Kelly, there are approximately 500 seniors on campus each year, but only around 150 parking spots are available for sale. Therefore, only about 30% of students are able to secure reserved spots.

While the parking spots are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis and the process is absolutely voluntary, there is more demand than supply.

Our school leadership just completed parking reformation and 100 spots were added through this process, which also alleviated the need for student parking on surrounding streets. The number of complaints from neighboring houses decreased significantly (from one per week to almost zero complaints). Senior parking spot sales are a great incentive for students to park in the officially designated areas versus on the streets and in neighbors’ driveways.

Rio Americano is not a community that ever turns away someone in need. There are many helping hands on our school campus. Teachers care. Students care. We all care about each other, and we help each other. We can work together to find solutions to the affordability issue of school parking spots.

Not everything at our school is perfect. There is no getting around some of these issues. But at the end of the day, we are just teenagers who want to show our pride in our senior year.

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  • GPApr 12, 2024 at 12:27 PM

    I think that its a special part of rio tradition that everyone can look forward to. Not only does it help fund for activities but it keeps people from parking on the street.

  • Harper GardnerFeb 5, 2024 at 5:51 PM

    I totally agree. This culture of parking spots is important to the student body and needs to stay here at rio.

  • ASFeb 4, 2024 at 6:54 PM

    Allowing students to have a chance to express themselves through their hours of artwork put into a parking spot that is designated for them the whole year can be a fun activity that many students look forward to. Knowing you will have a parking spot at school every day even if you run late can relieve most. Not only will these senior parking spots allow for easy access parking, but they will also create a weekend filled with fun with friends and family.