Parking Lot Jams and Parent Pickups

What’s Going on With That Student Parking Lot?
The NCP Student Parking Lot at midday.
The NCP Student Parking Lot at midday.

The student parking lot is packed daily with cars squeezed like sardines between the non-existent parking lines.  The real markers of the parking lot are the cracked pavement and holes.

After parking, students rush from their cars to the crosswalk. Car traffic ebbs and flows with each pack of students hoping the “Yield” sign will be obeyed as they walk across Kedzie Avenue to the school. On the other side of the road, the main parking lot is often chaotic, with parents dropping their kids off by driving toward the main entrance and leaving by the lone exit back onto Kedzie. 

Julia Jasmer (Adv. 403)

It is no secret that Northside College Prep is often a traffic trap. Julia Jasmer (Adv. 403) described the morning rush in a few words: “Not good.” When asked whether the traffic is sometimes out of control on Kedzie in the morning, Janson Phung (Adv. 405) simply answered, “Yes.” 


Janson Phung (Adv. 405)

His biggest concern with the morning traffic is that parents do not follow the proper drop-off procedure in the main parking lot.

But the question is not just if Northside is the site of traffic jams; it’s why. Julia explains, “I normally try to avoid Kedzie because it’s so bad. One time I took Kedzie all the way up it took like an hour to get to school. For reference, it’s fifteen minutes from my house to school.” 

Kedzie Avenue is a two-lane road that spans miles past Northside, carrying drivers from as far south as 205th Street to as far north as Bryn Mawr Avenue. In the stretch of Kedzie near Northside, bike lanes line both sides of the road, and traffic is always touch and go, with students like Ariadnna Tenorio (Adv. 407) saying, “It fluctuates.” At the same time, Justin Goldberg (Adv. 403) avoids the road altogether, taking only side streets to school.

Justin Goldberg (Adv. 403)


Parents picking up their students in Northside’s main parking lot.

Assistant Principal Barry Smith says, “Since COVID-19, the number of drop-offs has increased pretty noticeably.” He clarifies that although there are around “50% more drive-up families than pre-COVID,” the amount “has not gone back down to pre-COVID levels.” This shift has caused an increase in traffic safety concerns during drop-off and pick-up around Northside. 

Student Experiences

Janson Phung arrives at school around 7:45 to 7:50 and says it usually takes “around 2–3 minutes to get to the front of the school where I’m dropped off” in the morning. His biggest concern with the morning traffic is that parents do not follow the proper drop-off procedure in the main parking lot. Phung remarks that parents are “supposed to go all the way down [to the front of the school] to drop off, but they drop off right at the entrance [to the parking lot], so they block every car” waiting behind them. 

Ariadnna Tenorio seconds this notion, saying, “Sometimes I’ll get here at 7:50, and there’ll be no one, and another day I’ll get here, and it’ll be a tail out to the street [from the parking lot].” He further mentions, “It takes at least… five minutes for me to get to the door, and at that point, I won’t even be near the doors. I’ll be a couple paces away, and I have to walk the rest of the way because if I wait any longer, I’ll be late.”

Ariadnna Tenorio (Adv. 407)

Drop-off in the main parking lot is not the only concern raised by Northside students. Tenorio says, “One time I saw someone getting dropped off right on the street [Kedzie] just before the entrance to the parking lot, and they were blocking the way, so we had to drive around them.” But he adds that “most people don’t do it,” highlighting that it is not a school-wide problem, “but when the odd one out does it, it really does impede on the time that you get” to school.

More safety issues have presented themselves during pick-up after school. Julia Jasmer, who drives herself to school, says, “…by the time I leave for lunch, there are no spots left” in the parking lot. Fatima Coronel (Adv. 401) backs this up, saying, “It’s so bad.”

Anna Gallardo (Adv. 408) says that even though the student parking lot is full, parents still use it to pick up their children. “One time there was a parent, I was trying to reverse, and they weren’t moving, and I was blocked in, and they just stood there,” she recounts. Fatima Coronel agrees, saying, “You try to back up, but you can’t.”

Parents blocking student’s cars while waiting in the student parking to pick up their students.

Khang Nguyen (Adv. 409) recalls a similar experience, “I’ve seen it at least twenty times this year when there are just parents in the parking lot just blocking off sections. And we have to wait for their kids to come so that we can also leave. It’s just annoying because it’s like an extra ten-minute wait.” He says that parents “block off the middle part where everyone drives in,” and “it’s like obstacles.”

Khang Nguyen (Adv. 409)

Assistant Principal Barry Smith responded to these concerns, saying, “Parents should not be in the student lot at all…I would strongly encourage all parents not to use the NCP parking lot. I can’t imagine after 7:50 driving into that parking lot. It’s incredibly stressful. If it were me, I’d drop my child off on Catalpa.”

Northside Drop-off/Pick-up procedure.

He further explains the expectations for student drop-offs and pick-ups: “Parents are supposed to come into the main parking lot…there are two ways that you can enter the lot: the south entrance on Kedzie [and the north entrance on Bryn Mawr].” Parents using the student parking lot as a pick-up area was “not something we’re aware of” in the Northside administration. “I don’t know how long it has been going on, which is frustrating from my perspective,” says AP Smith.

Assistant Principal Smith also encourages students to reach out to the administration with any questions, comments, or concerns surrounding the well-being of the Northside College Prep campus. He says, “If you see something, say something.”

Assistant Principal Smith
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