[BHS Etree] ADMIN - Spirit Week Thoughts from Principal Scuderi
bhs at lists.lmi.net
Sun Oct 23 16:17:55 PDT 2011
Dear BHS Families and Staff:
On the eve of Spirit Week it is worth engaging in some conversation with our students about our expectations of them in terms of behavior and judgment. Spirit Week and Rally Day are exciting opportunities for the school community to come together and have a good time, yet the excitement and enjoyment of this tradition comes with clear limits and boundaries. Families can help by having direct and clear conversations with students. Staff can help the tone of the week by continuing to design effective and rigorous lessons, give homework, and avoid showing movies or reinforcing in any indirect way the misnomer that Spirit Week is a week off academically.
The administrative team is not naïve about the fact that for some students this tradition has been erroneously interpreted as a license to indulge in alcohol or other substances before or during the school day. It is our collective responsibility as staff and parents to communicate clearly to students that possession or use of drugs or alcohol on campus, or being under the influence of either during the school day, will be met with firm consequences. Families and school staff should be providing this message together throughout next week and for the remainder of the year.
Students who are in possession or under the influence of alcohol or drugs at school will be given a 5-day suspension.
In addition, the school may mandate a drug/alcohol education session with a professional drug and alcohol counselor as part of the consequence.
Part of our job is to articulate unambiguous penalties for violations of school rules, but our responsibilities as staff members and families also include minimizing, through open and honest discussion, the number of students who make bad or uninformed decisions.
We should not shy away from asking tough questions of our students about the use of controlled substances. We should set expectations for behavior that are clear and remind our kids to think about things deliberately and clearly before they do them.
In last Friday morning’s advisory our focus was on wise decision-making. I had an opportunity to speak directly with students in a few classes who shared their perspectives quite openly. Those perspectives ranged from students who were committed to not using alcohol or drugs to students who believed that alcohol could be used responsibly and that parent and staff concerns were often irrational or overcautious.
Our brightest students are sometimes susceptible to an overconfidence that can lead to bad decisions and very regrettable outcomes. Historically, the students who have indulged inappropriately during Rally Day are not just kids with discipline histories or those who struggle in school. In brief, all students could use a serious reminder from all of us about the absolute non-negotiable rules that the school will enforce next week for everybody regarding alcohol and drugs.
Students who find or construct arguments about why the administration should not be so hard-line regarding these behaviors need to understand that one, it is simply illegal for students to possess drugs or alcohol anywhere under state law, and the education code makes that provision even clearer when students are at school.
Secondly, Berkeley High School is a school, not a nightspot or a backyard party, and even those with more casual views on youthful experimentation with drugs and alcohol need to understand that we have no obligation whatsoever to tolerate these activities and experiments much less provide the venue for them on the BHS campus.
Our students are generally a phenomenal bunch. They are bright, witty, talented, and impress me with the genuinely unlimited potential I get to encounter on a daily basis. That said, they are still kids, still learning, still making decisions about what to do with the surplus and surge of energy that often comes with being a teenager.
Our jobs as educators and parents are sometimes like the jobs of good athletic coaches. We work in our kids' blind spots, observe their practices and processes, and put them in positions where their talents can be developed and maximized. We engage in discussions and modeling to strengthen them mentally and physically and to maximize the probability that they will be successful while minimizing the chances of them getting hurt while pursuing that success.
Lets work together this week to be good coaches for all of our kids and ensure the safest and most enjoyable Spirit Week possible.
Berkeley High School
Pat Anderson, Diane Douglas, Marguerite Fa-Kaji and Lisa Sibony are the parent-volunteer facilitators of the etree; please direct any questions to them at bhs-owner at lmi.net.
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