A segment of Buckhannon-Upshur High school students would like for mandatory drug testing to be the norm for any student driving to school or participating in any extracurricular activities.
Students representing the National Youth Leadership Initiative recently appeared before the Board of Education to make their case for random drug testing at the high school as a way to eliminate illegal drug use at the school.
After attending an event designed to help students detect problems within their respective schools, prescription drug abuse was identified as a problem at the high school.
"Although some may not think drugs are a big problems in our school, we think any occurrence is a concern," Hannah Stankus said. "Drugs are illegal, and we think any occurrence should be addressed before it hits a high level."
Stankus said the efforts to eradicate illegal drug use should be encouraged in school. The proposed tests would be given randomly to students via a saliva test administered possibly by a school health nurse or an outside contractor, though those details would have to be worked out should the request be approved by board members at a future date.
The students proposed that 50 percent of the affected students would be chosen from a random pool of names and tested for illegal drug use during the course of the year. The nature of the results will remain confidential.
The group said the drug testing will give them and their peers the opportunity to say not to drugs because of the consequences of using drugs, and therefore give them a head start in making good life decisions.
The ultimate goal, the students said, is not punishment, but rather influencing students not to participate in this at-risk behavior.
To participate in the drug testing, students will have to have a signed consent form from their parent or guardian
The process also will include an assembly at the beginning of the school year to explain the process so that students are more comfortable with it and will have a better understanding.
Students have looked at the drug-testing policies of other counties in the state and have made efforts to adopt those policies to fit Upshur County needs.
Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Scott Lampinen said he has been monitoring the efforts of Preston and Kanawha counties in drug testing. Lampinen noted those tests are contracted through a local health organization.
The board took no action on the request, but will revisit the issue when students return to make another presentation at an upcoming board meeting.
The West Virginia National Youth Leadership Initiative is a new, innovative program that works with communities across the state to engage youth in quality discussions about the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
While participating in this program, youth learned how to create logic models, do strategic planning, develop interventions, advocate for change, do evaluations and learn sustainability. The NYLI experience teaches what is required to create and nurture the growth of committed leaders and their work within coalitions. Through the process, the youth gained leadership skills, no matter where their future takes them.
Contact John Clise by email at email@example.com.