Student Commuters

Jesus Aguayo-Cerda, Writer

Downey High School is home to over 4,000 students, but the city of Downey is not home for all of them. Downey neighbors the cities of Paramount, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Pico Rivera, and South Gate. Residents of these nearby cities often head to Downey for leisure. This is due to the fact that Downey is full of popular establishments and plazas such as Canes, Cinemark, Chick-fil-A, Stonewood Mall, and the Promenade. Downey is a prospering city and the schools reflect that.


Speaking on why he decided to attend Downey High School is Adrian Farias, 12, a resident of South Central. Farias’ 15-mile commute is about 25 minutes or 45 minutes if he takes the bus which he usually does in order to get home.


“I wanted to come to Downey cause it just seemed better than the schools in South Central,” Farias stated. “I do like my city, but from what I’ve been told by my brother who goes to school in South Central, I probably wouldn’t like going to school there.”


The Downey Unified School District has a history of attracting out-of-city students by means of advertisement flyers that encourage students to apply for inter-district permits.The rules for the inter-district permit are that the school being applied to must have available space/resources and the principal of the school must approve the permit. Once the permit is approved, these students must have at least a 2.5 GPA each semester, good attendance, and good behavior or they will be expelled from the school and the district.


Sharing his thoughts on the rules of of the inter-district permit is Anthony Caropressi, 12, who resides in Montebello. Caropressi’s seven mile commute is approximately 15 minutes. He has been driving to and from school since his junior year, but before that he would have to wait for one of  his parents to pick him up.


“The rules are pretty easy. Don’t get in fights, go to school, and try,” Caropressi stated. “I get the rules. Why would they want a kid who doesn’t care to go to their school?”


Despite the pros of attending an out-of-district high school, attending a school outside of a person’s home city has its share of flaws. For example, a decent amount of these students do not have a ride home right when school ends; they wait to get picked up, which can be up to two to three hours after release. Going to school events outside of class hours, like football games, can also be difficult for them; sometimes they do not have rides to take them. A few permit students even keep their true place of residence private out of a fear of being judged because of the city they come from.


Diego Pasaye, 10, lives in Huntington Park and believes that the benefits of going to Downey High School outweigh the cons. Pasaye’s eight mile commute is 22 minute drive. His mother drops him off at school and typically picks him out within 30 minutes of the dismissal bell.


“There’s some small inconveniences, but it’s not like they ruin my day at school or anything,” Pasaye stated. “For the most part, I like coming here.”


According to assistant principal Scott Fleming, About 600 students at Downey High School are permit students. These students may not live in Downey, but they still remain a part of the environment and play as much a role as any other student in shaping the school community.