by Diego Perdomo
The American high school experience is like no other, as it hosts a diverse social landscape of interconnected communities. However, as students discover themselves, they become more exposed to the darker aspects of society like drugs and hostility.
Contact with tempting choices, along with Broward County Public School District’s recent declaration of THC possession as a felony, has prompted the West Broward PTSA and faculty to host a presentation detailing recent threats to student wellbeing. Although the meeting took place within the school’s auditorium, families and staff from Silver Trail Middle School and Franklin Academy were also invited.
“Both Principal Brad Fatout and myself, recognize there have been instances in this community that are alarming,” said Silver Trail Principal Steve Frazier. “Often times kids are making poor choices and engaging in things they shouldn’t be that could have long term consequences and effects. Part of our responsibility as educators, is not only to educate the kids, but to let the parents know what to be aware of so that they can guide their children.”
The presentation focused on monitoring social media, school safety changes, and drug abuse. Sergeant Jurgen and Officer Scopa from the Pembroke Pines Police Department joined Principal Brad Fatout in explaining threats to the student body. They elaborated on the dangers of modern technology, such as access to the internet and video games, and its harmful influences on young adults. The risk of violent media influencing poor choices was postulated as one of the main causes in the creation of dangerous “digital identities”, as explained by Scopa.
“I think that our generation needs to be better educated on their mannerisms and how they act, especially in public,” said sophomore Alissen Aguilar. “The majority of our generation is very uneducated on these things.”
Security concerns, highlighted by the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year and recent false threats, were addressed. Protocols and changes like student single point entry, hard corners, and identification badge checks were subsequently elaborated on, in response to prompting issues just mentioned. The “See Something, Say Something” approach was additionally developed by staff in previous student-attended assemblies.
Student safety changes like less tolerance for drug possession, new security protocols, and harassment charges were also discussed. Drug issues regarding vaping and THC possession were clarified, after recent issues with frequent student use of electronic cigarettes and oils containing THC. The recent increase in vaping is supported by the 2018 Monitoring the Future(MTF) Survey conducted by the University of Michigan. According to the survey, 33.4 percent of students in eight, tenth, and twelfth grade have tried any form of vaping in their lifetime and 11.7 percent of students have vaped marijuana.
“You’re going to experience different things, not all of them are going to be good,” Frazier said. “When you come across something that you are curious about or somebody is tempting you, before you actually engage in it learn more about it and make sure it’s something that will benefit you with a positive outcome.”