Eight students at Michigan’s Adrian High School wanted to make a difference in their community, and after six months of strategizing and brainstorming, their effort is paying dividends.
The teens – sophomores Hunter Comstock, Julia Harke, and Carter Merillat; juniors Zac Daniels, Liam DiPietro, Jacob Schwartz, and Trinity Keene; and senior Alexia Ferguson – designed a comprehensive plan to help tackle the student opioid epidemic and presented it to the Adrian board of education in late April, The Toledo Blade reports.
The main feature of the plan involves a tip line to allow students to report suspected drug abuse anonymously, through calls, text, email or an online form. The students also suggested a stronger partnership with juvenile courts, increased education, and a mandatory drug abuse evaluation for teens busted with drugs, which is optional under the current system.
“What’s so impressive about these students is that their goal was to educate and prevent,” student advisor Erin Gilmore told the Blade. “They looked for ways to be less reactionary and more proactive to combat this issue at this school.”
A good indicator of a school’s moral ecology is the degree that students take ownership of its culture. Here students addressed a pressing problem, developed tools for prevention, and gave candid counsel on the value of routine punishment procedures. In each case, it demonstrates their ownership of thick moral culture. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture observed, “The thicker the moral culture of the school, the more coherent it was and the more cohesive an environment it provided for the young. These are the environments within which personal and public virtue is both learned and absorbed; both ‘taught and caught.’”
The students researched student drug suspensions – currently set at 10 days, or seven days with a drug evaluation – and interviewed administrators, concluding that the system in place doesn’t do enough to dissuade repeat offenses. The students advocated for community service on top of the suspension.
“We believe it should be harsher because a lot of students see it as a vacation when really it should be harsher, and they can learn from it,” Schwartz said.
The presentation to the school board earned the group $500 from the Lenawee County Education Foundation to turn the tip line into a reality, as well as recognition from school officials for focusing on an important issue in the school community.
“This is a group of students stepping forward and saying ‘this should be done,’” Adrian Public Schools Superintendent Bob Behnke told the Blade, “and that’s much more powerful as far as implementing and changing our policy compared to a group of administrators.”
Teachers and principals working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students will find information, strategies and teacher lesson plans at the UK's The Jubilee Centre.
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