The latest piece of school equipment bought for Penticton Secondary School wasn't a whiteboard or a scoreclock. It was a breathalyzer machine.
We interrupt this editorial to raise our eyebrows.
Our first thoughts are this is Orwellian and a violation of human rights. Why should the good kids be subjected to this form of scrutiny?
It is, however, legal. The School Act permits this practice even though most boards in the province (including Kelowna and Vernon) do not use breathalyzers.
Okanagan Skaha superintendent Wendy Hyer said schools in Kamloops have been using breathalyzers
effectively for over a decade now.
Alan Stel, the new principal of Pen-Hi, said it's in the interest of safety of students and we can't disagree with him. Stel also believes it's more of a
deterrent now that students know the machine is there for functions held outside instructional time.
Drinking at high-school dances has become the norm in many cases. We're no longer in the days of Ricky Nelson, spot dances, homemade cookies and running around in our stockings on the gym floor. Alcohol is a concern with some students and they're becoming more skillful at disguising drunkenness.
It's a sad commentary that some
students can't enjoy the camaraderie of classmates at an age-old tradition of a dance without getting sauced before
entering the gymnasium.
But the school has an obligation to keep all its students safe. A drunken
patron at a dance could possibly cause a fight or get behind the wheel of a car and kill someone. If that were to happen, everyone within the school community would ask why administration did nothing to prevent this.
Provided the staff members administering the breathalyzer use common sense and courtesy, we don't have a problem with it. Parents should
support the school on this one.
- Herald editor James M. Miller