Principal Chick at Drug Forum: 'One is Too Many'
Following the October 19 release of a letter to McClure parents, school principal Dan Chick addressed parents' concerns about rumored marijuana usage by eighth grade students.
Nearly a week of buzzing within the McClure Junior High School community about a letter released last week reporting rumored marijuana usage by eighth-grade students culminated in an informational parent meeting on Tuesday night.
Principal Dan Chick offered parents of McClure students an opportunity to ask questions following a presentation of the school's position and actions toward drug use by its students
It was more due to the distraction that the rumored drug usage is causing, rather than the threat of drug use at the school itself, that led Chick to call the parent meeting and to hold a special assembly on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Chick explained that he and other staff members all began hearing from concerned students at about the same time.
"They are coming at this in an incredibly mature way," Chick said of the students' actions, explaining that none who have approached him have done so to tattle; he specified that no names have been given, but rather that students approached out of concern for their peers.
One of the consistencies in the students' stories were the locations of the rumored drug use.
"We have no proof that any of this has happened here in school or on school grounds," Chick said, explaining that Lyons Township High School football games and "Hoboland" (the infamous viaduct at 47th Street and I-294) were the rumored settings.
A parent who introduced herself as a mother of both a high school and a junior high school student seemed to corroborate the idea that drug use could take place at a football game by saying that, in her experience, junior high students rarely pay any attention to the actual games but rather spend time disappearing under the bleachers.
As far as drugs or paraphernelia at McClure itself, Chick said that he has authority to act on any reasonable suspicion, which includes conducting locker searches.
If any student is found to have marijuana in the building, Chick explained, the most likely outcome for that student would be a ten-day out-of-school suspension with the worst-case possibility of a recommendation for expulsion.
Physical education and health teacher Kevin Cuff also provided information for one set of handouts that included information about marijuana that he teaches as part of the health curriculum.
Cuff explained that each grade's drug unit has a different focus due to the different peer pressure situations students may be exposed to as they get older: tobacco awareness for sixth graders; tobacco and drug awareness for seventh graders; and alcohol awareness for eighth graders. Given recent events, eighth graders will have a review on the dangers of marijuana.
"The magic number is twenty-one, whether it's legal or illegal... the law is 21," Cuff said on the topic of differing attitudes toward the legalization of marijuana.
One parent asked whether students were being given the tools to deal with situations involving drugs and peer pressure; McClure's assistant principal Rachel Corrough reminded parents of the Second Step program that is taught throughout sixth, seventh and eighth grades which directly deals with those issues and more.
The overarching theme of the evening, however, was the importance of dialogue between families and the school regarding situations like the rumored drug use, regardless of whether they place on or off school grounds.
"One [student using marijuana] is too many," Chick said.
Guidance counselor Kasey Cavoto and social worker Cris Hansen also reminded parents of the McClure Anonymous Hotline, explaining that even e-mail addresses are kept anonymous should students or parents be more comfortable taking that route to share concerns with administrators.