SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Don't lower expectations
By Vicki Harsha


February 28, 2006
Tuesday PM

I have been reading the letters to SitNews regarding our high school, our school spirit, and now, drugs and young people in our community, along with the newest letter regarding the High School Administrators closing the school doors at 4:00, and students required to leave at 3:15 unless working with staff or coaches.

I would like to try to make a correlation between what I see happening in our community and our students, school spirit, drug use and how we, as parents, a community, or as administrators, are allowing it, condoning it and expecting it.

First, our children need to be treated with respect and integrity if we expect them to respond with the same. The comment that "they cannot be trusted with monies at the door" needs to be looked at with great disdain and realize that whoever made this comment does not work with our local students on a volunteer basis. All our athletes fundraise for their sports, and they know the importance of accountability and being responsible. We have to demand that our children be treated with the same respect and integrity we demand from each other, and most important, adults working in our schools.

Second, the decisions the board and the borough have made regarding Schoenbar has dampened school spirit and a sense of belonging, and we are seeing these results today. Both my freshman and 8th grader have not attended a "normal" middle school. You only need to talk to a Schoenbar teacher to see what the repercussions of not having a middle school have done to these students. We need to find ways to get these groups of students together, not separate them, by closing the doors at the high school at 4:00. Students need a school to practice their sporting event, practice new dance for drill team, cheerleading practice, form pep clubs, make posters, student body meetings, practice debate, band, culinary, have after school dances, or just simply, cheer their friends on who are practicing their talents. Our children also need time to be social, productive and busy in a safe environment, not the streets of Ketchikan. They need the doors open at their school, and it needs to accommodate both Schoenbar and Kayhi. We haven't had a middle school for 3 years, and now, the students are losing their high school!

Last, the change to the drug policy for both Schoenbar and Kayhi. The new drug policy is no longer Zero Tolerance. Why? Why can a student athlete, who as such is in a leadership position, be required to take random drug test but not required to pass them? How can an athlete, whether in their own home town or visiting another Alaska team, be found to have been drinking or smoking, or tested positive for drugs, then be allowed to suit up with their team? Why are they not either dismissed from the team or sent home immediately? Why aren't we telling our athletes, if you test positive, if you get caught, by action or deed, then you will not represent your sport, your school, your community and you will be accountable!
I was not aware of this change until the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic. I assumed this change took place recently, only because I was not aware nor had I heard of any infractions by students until this year. I was told by two different school board members this change was actually put into place 3 years ago. Do the results of these changes reflect the problems that have been voiced on SitNews? If our students are allowed to make poor choices, is it affecting other areas of behavior? Is this administration really allowing not only high school students, but 12 and 13 year old middle school students, to even consider poor choices regarding drugs and alcohol? These students know they can still play their sport, whether or not they get caught "with that poor choice!" I am appalled!

The new policy has specific punishments for the first offense, the second offense and the third offense. Excuse me? What are we telling our kids? The only thing we should be telling our children is that if you do drugs, if you do alcohol, if you smoke, if you do not show the respect and integrity that we demand of you for yourselves, that we demand of our student athletes for the privilege of representing Kayhi or Schoenbar schools, then you will no longer have the privilege of representing your school, your sport and your community. That privilege will only go to a student that takes pride in themselves, their sport, their school and their community.

Dinah Pearson's letter said it perfectly. We need to hold up the youth that make good choices, hold accountable those that do not make good choices. If there are athletes that are making poor choices, they should not be allowed to represent their sport, their school or Ketchikan. Give that privilege to a student who expects to be drug free, demand their teammates to be, and knows they have to be! Give that responsibility back to the students!

I see the message being sent with the changes being implemented as saying to our students: We believe you have no respect or integrity, you are not capable of being trusted, we can't allow you to be at school after hours without worrying you will destroy property, we expect you to make poor choices, you will no longer have to say NO when a drug, alcohol or tobacco choice is presented to you, it will not affect the privilege of representing your school, and we don't believe you care about your school, your community or yourself.

We cannot lower the expectations we have for all our students, or the expectations they have for themselves and each other. Our students need positive messages, high expectations and a community behind them to correct the changes that have been and will be detrimental to our schools, our youth and our community.

Vicki Harsha
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Vicki Harsha attended Ketchikan elementary schools, Schoenbar and is a graduate of Kayhi. She's married, with 5 children, 2 of whom are still in the school district. She volunteers for many sports, both school and community sponsored.

Related Viewpoint:

letter Keep school doors open By Charles Edwardson - Ketchikan, AK - USA

letter Keep those school doors open By Linda Koons Auger - Ketchikan, AK - USA

letter A million choices wouldn't fix the problem By Dinah Pearson - Ketchikan, AK - USA

Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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