Admin Explains: The Freshmen Off-Campus Policy


A hallway in IC sits empty after the school day ends. (Carly Philpott)

Carly Philpott, Editor-in-Chief

In August, incoming freshmen and their families learned that this year’s ninth grade class wouldn’t be allowed off-campus until at least mid-September. The decision shocked some and relieved others.

It was spurred by recent patterns in student behavior  – last year, Creek freshmen almost lost their off-campus privileges as a class for the first time in years.

“We were seeing a higher increase of kids misbehaving at local establishments, whether it be thefts, whether it be vandalism, whether it be cursing, whether it be not picking up trash, being rude to the people working in Starbucks, or King Soopers,” said Assistant Principal Kevin Uhlig, who oversees safety, security, and mental health at Creek. “We just saw an uptick in that.”

The class of 2025 managed to keep their privileges after Principal Ryan Silva sent home multiple warnings. But having seen the behavior of last year’s freshmen, Creek’s administration made the decision to keep this year’s youngest students on campus – at least temporarily.

The decision, Uhlig said, wasn’t just made by Silva.

“That decision…was made by department coordinators, by members of our community, Mr. Silva – and I met with PTCO,” Uhig said. “So there was a lot of collaboration with our entire community, students, staff, and parents to make that decision.”

Because the new policy stems from last year’s precedent, some freshmen view it as unfair.

“I think that the sophomores should be punished this year for their own problems and we shouldn’t be punished,” freshman Sarah said.

For years, all students at Creek have been allowed off-campus during their off periods. Creek is surrounded on multiple sides by a variety of restaurants and grocery stores. Students who drive take advantage of other nearby businesses that are a little too far to walk.

But off-campus privileges have always been removable – some parents don’t give permission for students to leave, and the privilege can be removed by the school or parents at any time for disciplinary reasons.

This year, freshmen aren’t getting those privileges automatically like in previous years. But they can earn it.

On Sept. 16, deans will evaluate each freshman to see if they’ve earned the right to go off-campus. That will be determined by criteria that have already been communicated to students.

“If they have a certain amount of unexcused absences…if they have a certain amount of tardies, if they have more than one dean referral, if they have a suspension,” Uhlig said. “If they violate one of those four things, they don’t get it back. And then they don’t get a chance to earn it until the end of first quarter, which would be essentially fall break.”

Freshmen are already anticipating the restaurants they can walk to once they get those privileges back. “I can’t wait to go off and eat food with friends,” Sarah said.

Although freshmen will have to earn off-campus privileges, Uhlig suspects that most students will have no problem doing so. “If we have 900 freshmen, I’m guessing 50, max, won’t get their off-campus privileges back,” he said.

The decision to keep freshmen on-campus is not just consequential for students. It also adds extra work for administrators. On top of deciding which freshmen can earn off-campus privileges, they also have to spend extra time on student supervision.

“Our deans and admin all have four periods a week where they’re standing at different spots on the perimeter of our campus, checking IDs to make sure freshmen don’t go off campus,” Uhlig said. “It has forced deans and admin to have to give up periods, which is fine, to be on the edge of campus.”

Despite all the work that will go into enforcing this policy, Uhlig hopes it will make a difference. And he says it’s an important step Creek is taking to treat the community better. He says students’ behavior off-campus can always return on-campus, souring the school environment. But if students are forced to take a second look at how they act, he hopes it will better the community as a whole.

“I think it’s important that we understand that when we go off campus, or when we go to a football game on Friday nights, or we go to a choir concert, it’s a reflection of our school at all times,” Uhlig said. “[It represents] what it means to be a Cherry Creek High School Bruin.”