Catch them {if you can}

This year, neighboring North Bend High School students who participate in athletics and other extra-curricular activities are required to submit a urine sample for random drug testing. Marshfield administrators should consider implementing the same policy here.

By Katie Duell | Photography Editor

Over the summer, the North Bend High School administration decided that all students participating in athletics and activities would be subject to random drug testing beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Many are wondering if Marshfield will follow suit. So far, officials at MHS seem reluctant to develop a similar policy, but I believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to also begin drug testing students who represent MHS in the community and beyond.

Drug abuse has become more and more common in high schools across America. Some athletes are using drugs after practice, on the weekend or even right before a game. There is often a casual approach to recreational drug use, with some believing that if student athletes are winning or doing well, then it should not matter. However, drug use often affects performance on the field and in the classroom.  Most importantly, these students are in a potentially dangerous situation, and random drug testing could help bring light to the situation. High schools that fail to drug test students are missing out on an opportunity to become aware of the problem and provide appropriate intervention.

The expecation that students participating in athletics and activities will not consume alcohol or drugs is already in place. Before students even begin to participate in most athletic or extracurricular activity opportunities at MHS they are required to jump through certain hoops which may include paying a user fee, having a physical exam and completing paper work. In this paper work is a code of conduct that each student and a parent or guardian must sign which states specifically that, “School Board policy JFCI-AR(2) requires students choosing to participate in athletics at Marshfield High School consent to participate in random drug testing program. A separate consent form allowing random drug testing must be on file in the athletic director’s office in order for a student to be able to participate.” Therefore, if students complete the paper work and sign this code, whether they actually read the material or not, they have already agreed random drug testing while they are participating in athletics or activities at MHS and are subject to discipline. Principal Greg Mulkey is reluctant to begin randomly drug testing students as he believes it may infringe on student’s legal rights. According to Mulkey, in order to drug test students, there first needs to be an investigation to determine if there is reasonable suspicion to drug test those accused. Students know the expectations to not use illegal substances while participating in school activities and athletics from the moment they sign the code of conduct. Therefore, they should follow those expectations and drug testing simply upholds the standards the school has already laid out in its own code of conduct.

Perhaps the biggest reason to consider a drug testing policy similar to NBHS is that it appears to be working there. NBHS senior Alisha Malloy and junior Mason Laird believe drug testing those competing is a good thing for the school to do and shows who really want to play the sports, because if they really want to participate they will stop using drugs or just not begin using them in the first place. Some staff members there are proud to see that random drug testing has not only changed the athletic atmosphere, but also the atmosphere around the school. For example, one NBHS teacher said the typical conversations about parties that used to fill the hallways during passing periods is now nearly nonexistant and he gives all the credit to drug testing. Likewise, Principal Bill Lucero also sees positive changes and welcomes other schools to join him and institute drug testing.

Drug use among students who participate in activities and athletics is a losing situation for all involved. It reflects poorly on the school, is difficult and frustrating for fellow peers and teammates to deal with, and could have devastating effects for the users. It is time for MHS to follow in the footsteps of NBHS to help improve the health and future of MHS students. High schools need to start pushing hard on drug testing the students that are competing and representing their high school. An extra fee should be charged, informing the parents of the students the money is going toward them being randomly drug tested at least once throughout the time period they are competing.