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School administrators hope that an established drug testing program at Alma High School is giving students involved in activities a reason to say no to drugs.
Nick Spencer, assistant principal at AHS, said he views Alma’s Random Drug Testing Program as nothing but a positive; he hopes that students will use it as a reason to say no when faced with a decision about whether to try drugs.
“This can be a tool that they can use. When temptation comes before (students) to do something they are uncomfortable with, this is a tool,” Spencer said.
Spencer also serves as the school’s Drug Prevention Coordinator for the program, responsible for implementing the drug testing process each year.
Bryson Treadaway, a junior at Alma High School, supports the drug testing initiative. He participates in the drug testing program because of his involvement in athletics.
Treadaway said although he has never been selected for random drug testing, he thinks if a student is committed to an activity, they should be willing to be drug tested to show they are honoring the obligation. He said he does not view testing as an invasion of a student’s privacy.
“I think we should continue doing (random drug testing). It’s a way to say no to something that could affect you the rest of your life so why would you not support the act of doing it,” Treadaway said.
Spencer said an outside drug testing agency is responsible for the actual testing, including providing the school with a list of students to be tested. The agency furnishes a list of numbers to the school, which in turn correspond with a student name. Those students are then assembled and go through the drug testing process.
Spencer stressed the importance of confidentiality in the process, and said every effort is made not to reveal students who are selected for testing as they are gathered.
“Confidentiality is something that is very important to me,” he said.
The school response to a positive test is not punitive, Spencer said. Instead, school officials meet with interested parties to put a plan in place that will address the issue.
“We’re just here to help our students,” Spencer said.
Getting students to verbalize their problem and understanding the depth of that problem, helps all involved to identify what steps need to be taken to address the situation.
After a first positive test and subsequent meeting, a student will be placed on the drug testing list for the remainder of the year. If a second positive result is discovered, a student is suspended from participating in extracurricular activities for that time, according to school policy.
Spencer said a third positive result has never happened at AHS. However, it would keep a student from participating in extracurricular activities for the remainder of their enrollment at AHS.
The drug testing program at AHS started six years ago, Spencer said. It developed after school administrators initiated conversations about how to combat potential drug use in the district. Several schools in the area had already implemented similar programs at the time, he said.
The cost of testing is between $25 and $30 per student, and Spencer said about 25 students are tested each session. The school tests students anywhere from five to seven times per school year. Marijuana is the most common positive result.