“I got my drivers license last week”: Seniors drive to school

Courtesy+of+Staff+Artist+Lauren+B.+Kim

Courtesy of Staff Artist Lauren B. Kim

Emily Salzhauer and Nia Huff

Sydney Pruzan (12) looks forward to driving her friends home most afternoons after school, she said. “It’s lots of fun to drive everyone around and hopefully in the spring we can leave school during free time and go out for lunch or get coffee and I can drive everyone.”  

As seniors do each year, members of the Class of 2022, such as Pruzan, are able to drive and park at school as long as they have the school’s student permit, Dean of the Class of 2022 Dr. Glenn Wallach said. While any student with a driver’s license could drive to school, a student must have the parking permit to park in an authorized spot, he said.

To receive a permit, students must fill out a form and submit it to the Department of Public Safety. Eligible seniors must be either 17 or 18 years old and must have completed a Driver’s Education course. If the student is not from New York State, they must follow the rules for driving for their home state and New York. This requirement can be an obstacle for students from New Jersey and Connecticut as the driving rules in those states are different from those of New York, Michael Shaari (12) said.

Miles Schamroth (12) learned to drive through the New York State Driver’s Education course and practiced with his parents, he said. The Driver’s Ed course was important for Schamroth as it allowed him to get his Driver’s License at age 17 rather than waiting the extra year until he turned 18.

However, Eliza Becker (12) did not find the Driver’s Ed course as helpful as she had expected because it is more focused on teaching the rules of driving than giving students practice on the road.

Rachel Kuhn (12) had a similar experience to Becker. “After Driver’s Ed, the more I drove with an instructor or my parents, the better I got, ” Kuhn said.

Kuhn got her license last week to avoid taking the bus and make her commute easier, she said. “I don’t like taking the bus because my bus is at least an hour-long everyday and driving will cut the time in half,” she said.

Ellery Lapin (12) was excited to begin driving, especially because she watched her older sister drive, she said. Her parents also encouraged her to begin driving and work towards getting her license.

Having a license allowed Lapin to be more independent, especially during quarantine, as she spent most of her time at her house in Connecticut. She found it helpful to drive on her own while in the suburbs, she said. “If my parents were working, I could drive to go get dinner, pick up food or whatever it was.”

Seniors’ driver’s licenses have given them flexibility in their schedules, Alejandro Espejel (12) said. Espejel was excited when he received his license so he could finally be less reliant on his parents and have the flexibility to go places by himself. “I play tennis in New Jersey, so I also need to be able to drive there,” he said.

Ella Franco (12) will begin driving to school in the spring, which she hopes will give her some extra time in the morning, she said. “Right now, my dad drives me or I take the train, so it will be much easier for him when I can drive myself.”

Pruzan got her license to avoid taking the bus to school this year, she said. “I have always hated the bus and driving gives me more flexibility to come and go when I want,” she said. “Also, driving is much cheaper than taking the bus or an uber every day.”

Similarly, having his own car at school will allow Shaari to leave school early during his H block or stay later to hang out with friends during his senior spring, he said. 

For Brooks, the ability to drive is a necessity, he said. “I got my license because I live in New Jersey so cars are essential to getting around — there are no subways or trains or citibikes for me,” he said.

Kuhn has also found driving to be a useful skill, she said.“[Driving] back and forth to school is probably the big thing as well it is a good life skill to have,” she said. “It is important to know how to drive and have your license.”

Although he has his license, Schamroth is still practicing his driving, he said. “I definitely need more work on parallel parking.”

Similarly, Lapin is also practicing a few driving skills, she said. One thing she found during the process of learning to drive was the significant role that confidence played, she said. “When you are thinking about it, when you are learning to drive it’s not that big of a deal, but when you actually get on the road with other cars, you are kind of worried.” While she was  nervous about other cars around her, Lapin became more comfortable with practice, she said.

Although some seniors have begun to get their driver’s licenses this year, learning how to drive and obtaining a license has been difficult for others. Dalia Pustilnik (12) would like to get her drivers license but has not been able to get as much practice as she needs. “It’s really difficult to get good practice or the required hours because my family doesn’t have a car,” she said.

However, Pustilnik does not feel as though she is losing out because she lives in Manhattan and can take Ubers, public transportation, or taxis. “New York City definitely does not require a car to get around,” she said.

Emmi Zeitler (12) is very excited to get her drivers license and is looking forward to driving to school as soon as possible, she said. 

Franco enjoys driving around the city with friends and having fun together, she said.

“My favorite driving memory is when my friend from South Carolina came to visit me in New Jersey and I got to drive her all around my town,” Myra Singh (12) said. “I remember we were talking about the multiverse and the fifth dimension, and it was just fun to be hanging out with her and chatting and listening to music.”

Kuhn looks forward to taking road trips with her friends, she said.“Listening to music while driving on the highway, it is really fun when you get into the groove of things,” Kuhn said.