Pubdate: Mon, 26 Nov 2001
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2001 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Kate Carter
Bookmark: (Youth)


Is the teen-age drug culture merely a faint memory from times of 
flower power and Woodstock?

Nope. In Athens-Clarke County, drugs are still very much in use among 
some members of the high school population. But as always, there are 
the users and the non-users; the sellers and the buyers. Some 
students paint pictures of a drug-laden lifestyle, while others say 
they refrain both from doing drugs and having friends that do drugs.

As the Clarke County School District discusses implementing random 
drug testing for high school athletes next fall and drug dog searches 
even earlier, educators, administrators, teachers, parents and 
students are all wondering what, exactly, might be gleaned from the 
results. And, perhaps more importantly, those who have experienced 
tragic loss due to drugs are hoping a more pro-active, anti-drug 
attitude will prevail in district schools.

''I think we've got significant concern about drugs,'' said Clarke 
County Schools Superintendent Lewis Holloway, who is drafting a 
letter to parents regarding drug dogs in school. ''My hope is that 
both of these measures will show that there's not a serious problem, 

Former Clarke County Board of Education member Anne Cooper lost her 
youngest son, Todd, a Clarke Central student who stepped into traffic 
on Timothy Road early on a school morning three years ago. He was 
under the influence of LSD, a drug he had bought in school, according 
to Cooper.

As a board member, Cooper lobbied for the use of drug dogs after her 
son's death, but it did not have sufficient support from the board. 
Since then, Cooper has campaigned against drugs in the community and 
worked on the development of a program called Prime for Life Under 21 
- -- a drug and alcohol prevention course that first requires people to 
admit that tragedy can happen to them.

''It is past time that the school district takes action,'' said 
Cooper. ''I think there has been significant progress made (since 
1998), but drugs are probably still on campus.''

Indeed, many students attest to the fact that drugs are available on 
school campuses. The ''Drug Free Zone'' sign outside Cedar Shoals 
High School makes Stefanie Whorton -- student council president and 
avowed non-user of drugs, alcohol or cigarettes -- chortle.

''It's a joke,'' she said.

Whorton and Erica Harrison, Cedar Shoals senior class president, say 
drugs are available on campus, but both feel strongly that they are 
not a rampant problem. Both say ''peer pressure'' does not justify 
students' excuses for doing drugs.

According to Whorton and Harrison, alcohol and marijuana are the 
drugs of choice -- and many people find it easier to purchase 
marijuana than alcohol. But they both have witnessed only one drug 
bust in their nearly four years at Cedar Shoals, which they say is 

''Outside of school, you're never gonna know how many people do 
drugs,'' said Harrison. ''In school? I honestly might be oblivious to 
it, but I don't see people walking down the halls doing drugs. I 
don't think it's any different than the 1950s.''

Three schoolmates who wish to remain anonymous, however, paint a 
different picture. They slip in and out of the drug lingo easily, 
describing blueberry stuff, northern lights, DaVinci's, Buddhas and 
BC's -- all descriptions of various types of drugs.

They said it is relatively easy to sneak off the school premises to 
smoke pot. They noted that psilocybin mushrooms -- hallucinogens -- 
are extremely popular, as is ecstasy, but both are relatively hard to 
find on campus. All agreed that the majority of people they know at 
school do drugs regularly; mostly outside of school, but sometimes 
before school or during school hours.

''Unless you're dressing in all black with a lot of piercings, you're 
fine,'' said one of the students regarding teachers' and 
administrators' suspicions about drug use among the student 

Cedar Shoals Principal Charles Worthy and Clarke Central High School 
Principal Maxine Easom are supportive of random drug testing and 
bringing in drug dogs to detect illegal goods on campus, though Easom 
emphasizes that the policy is not yet written.

Federal law dictates that any random drug sampling on school campus 
can apply only to athletes because drug use could easily endanger 
their safety -- or others' safety -- while playing sports.

''If we have any drugs at all, then it's a problem,'' said Easom. 
''And we do have them. Any school in America will.''

''We do find students with possession of drugs,'' said Worthy. ''We 
follow the student code of conduct policy when dealing with them.''

According to Worthy and Easom, the general policy for a student 
caught selling drugs is recommended expulsion, and the on-campus 
police officer files charges against the student, treating him or her 
like any other Clarke County resident. Students 17 and younger may 
face hearings in juvenile court.

If a student is found in possession of drugs, he or she is suspended 
for 10 days pending a due-process hearing with the school district. 
Up to 45 days of alternative school are often recommended for those 
students, and charges are also usually filed by the campus police 
officer, often landing the student in juvenile court.

According to Easom, if a student is merely suspected of being under 
the influence of drugs, their parents are usually contacted by school 

Although specific numbers of drug offenses at each high school were 
unavailable, from January through April of this year 42 juvenile drug 
offenses were brought before the Athens-Clarke County Juvenile Court, 
according to Associate Judge Robin Shearer.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh