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John Mall seniors had signed behavior contract

Who supplied the alcohol to our kids?”

by Jaye Sudar

WALSENBURG- At the RE-1 School Board meeting Tuesday night, three hours of intense conversation was brought to a sharp focus by David Harriman’s question.  The long time coach for John Mall High School asked, “Who supplied the alcohol to OUR kids?”  He went on to theorize that the kids probably planned it, but he wondered who bought the alcohol and why  the district wasn′t  interested in prosecuting the person(s) responsible?

    The event was the Senior Seminar trip sponsored by the CSU Alliance to prepare students for college.  Transportation was paid by the 21st Century grant, and hotel accommodations were paid by CSU.  John Mall is one of ten schools in this alliance which provides a full scholarship for qualifying students.   Due to alcohol and misconduct, the students returned home without attending the CSU event.  The consequences of their actions were suspension and loss of the right to attend prom and graduation.  Requests to moderate these consequences resulted in an addition to the agenda for the meeting Tuesday night.

    The meeting was held to gather information for the ongoing investigation and to allow the community to voice their opinions on a matter rife with gossip, innuendo, misinformation, and prejudice.  Students, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens filled the Washington School auditorium.  Over thirty individuals spoke.  Emotions were high as parents pleaded with the board to allow students to walk at graduation. Chelsea Griego made a plea stating that she was so very sorry and “willing to do anything” in order to walk.  On the other side of the coin were parents asking why the board might exonerate students who admitted to doing wrong but had not recognized students who had been honorable and did not break the rules.

    Some parents blamed the school, administrators and teachers for this incident.  Pleas to not destroy family celebrations of achievement were heard. Students apologized and promised to participate in drug and alcohol programs and community service.  A petition was presented as well as letters for and against allowing the students to walk at graduation.  Some parents stepped forward to state that the students should pay the price for their mistakes.

    Teachers voiced concern that allowing the students to walk would set a bad example and might encourage bad behavior on future trips.  One stated that the students had shown no remorse for their actions.  Another stated that he had never been asked to present his statement although he had been on the trip.

    Maria de la Cruz, school counselor,  provided firsthand information on what happened.  She explained the contract that the students had signed.  She has donated her time during the year for Friday Senior Seminar classes and worked to help the students recover lost credits or find scholarships.  Maria believes in treating the seniors as young adults and expecting them to act accordingly.  She stated that if the students were willing to work together to come up with an alternative consequence, that she would not be adverse to having them walk at graduation.

    Doc Siders explained that as the administrator, she chose not to punish the students to the full extent, which would have involved contacting the police.  Doc also stated that if Maria was willing to work with the seniors involved to come up with an alternative consequence, then she would be willing to consider it.  It was agreed that the senior class would meet with Doc Siders and Maria de la Cruz to investigate alternatives.  If a plan can be decided on, it will be presented to Superintendent Doyle by April 19.

    Everyone was concerned that this incident had splintered the senior class and the community.  Doc Siders, Maria de la Cruz and the board want to work on a solution which will heal the rift.  Maria stated that this incident was about honor and one′s word.  “If your word means nothing, then what are you?” she asked those present.  It is a question that the students of John Mall and our community must answer before graduation.

    After the marathon session in the auditorium, the board moved back to the regular meeting room to briefly discuss the postponement of training by John Keilbach, the override election, a bus route to Gardner, mileage payments to parents, and the rental of the house owned by the school district.  A program demonstrating the dangers of drinking and driving is being presented on Thursday at John Mall high school. Students, parents and staff are invited to participate in this pre-prom activity.incident.  Pleas to not destroy family celebrations of achievement were heard. Students apologized and promised to participate in drug and alcohol programs and community service.  A petition was presented as well as letters for and against allowing the students to walk at graduation.  Some parents stepped forward to state that the students should pay the price for their mistakes.

    Teachers voiced concern that allowing the students to walk would set a bad example and might encourage bad behavior on future trips.  One stated that the students had shown no remorse for their actions.  Another stated that he had never been asked to present his statement although he had been on the trip.

    Maria de la Cruz, school counselor,  provided firsthand information on what happened.  She explained the contract that the students had signed.  She has donated her time during the year for Friday Senior Seminar classes and worked to help the students recover lost credits or find scholarships.  Maria believes in treating the seniors as young adults and expecting them to act accordingly.  She stated that if the students were willing to work together to come up with an alternative consequence, that she would not be adverse to having them walk at graduation.

    Doc Siders explained that as the administrator, she chose not to punish the students to the full extent, which would have involved contacting the police.  Doc also stated that if Maria was willing to work with the seniors involved to come up with an alternative consequence, then she would be willing to consider it.  It was agreed that the senior class would meet with Doc Siders and Maria de la Cruz to investigate alternatives.  If a plan can be decided on, it will be presented to Superintendent Doyle by April 19.

    Everyone was concerned that this incident had splintered the senior class and the community.  Doc Siders, Maria de la Cruz and the board want to work on a solution which will heal the rift.  Maria stated that this incident was about honor and one′s word.  “If your word means nothing, then what are you?” she asked those present.  It is a question that the students of John Mall and our community must answer before graduation.

    After the marathon session in the auditorium, the board moved back to the regular meeting room to briefly discuss the postponement of training by John Keilbach, the override election, a bus route to Gardner, mileage payments to parents, and the rental of the house owned by the school district.  A program demonstrating the dangers of drinking and driving is being presented on Thursday at John Mall high school. Students, parents and staff are invited to participate in this pre-prom activity.