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Schools

'What if?'

Students at West Hernando Middle School were asked how they would handle it if a fellow student brought something dangerous to school.

By MARYAN PELLAND
Published October 26, 2006


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This week, eight West Hernando middle-schoolers responded to a two-part question that every child in America has probably thought about.

The first part of the query: If you knew for a fact that a fellow student brought something "dangerous" into your school, what would you do?

The second part: If the student was not a troublemaker, and the student explained it was an accidental oversight, what consequences would you assign for bringing that dangerous item into the school?

Interestingly, though the item was not described or named, every student assumed it to be a weapon.

Tyler Carlin, 13, eighth grade:

Tyler is a math wizard who's looking forward to high school next year for more challenging math programs.

"First I'd do whatever I could to get permission to go to the guidance office or see the principal, assistant principal or the resource officer. I would tell the adult what the item was, who the person was that had it, and where the person and the item were. I'd ask to be anonymous - a kind of witness protection program. I'm not sure if we have a zero-tolerance policy here, but keeping weapons out of school is a very high priority. Serious.

"For a first offense, I'd suspend them for a week. If they don't care what happens to them, they're sure not going to care what happens to the rest of us."

Mallori Brooks, 13, eighth grade:

Mallori's favorite subject is gym. She's looking forward to athletic programs at Central High.

"I'd confront (the perpetrator) and tell a counselor or a deputy. If he already had the weapon in school, I would definitely give the information I had to an adult. I'd want them to take him out of school immediately.

"It's not that I don't think a girl would do something like that, but girls and guys do things differently. Males are more physical and would probably do something more impulsive and extreme. Girls go behind your back and talk about you first.

"They should at least get an out-of-school suspension. Expulsion, if the behavior is extreme."

Raqurra Ishmar, 13, eighth grade:

Raqurra is also eager to get to high school so she can take on more challenges.

"First off, I'd tell a counselor or principal all the facts I knew. This school has a number of police people on site and I would think the person would get arrested. He certainly should know you can't do that and that there are consequences and repercussions.

"Even if it's accidental. But still, it's common sense and that would be a stupid act. Consequences? They should be expelled.

"If you endanger the rest of the people, you should be gone. I saw (a TV show) about a boy who was bullied. He couldn't take it, and so he brought a weapon to school and a kid ended up paralyzed. It doesn't have to be a big plot; some simple thing like that is dangerous. They should be expelled."

Jessica Campbell, 13, eighth grade:

Jessica loves her art classes and is looking forward to high school at Central.

"I'd be scared. I would tell a deputy. And I'd be more scared if I didn't know what he or she was going to do with the weapon. I'd expect a deputy to confiscate the weapon and tell the kid if he did it again he'd get arrested.

"I'd rather be anonymous, but I want a safe school so if I had to be known, I'd still do it. Because of things that happen in the news, I think we're all aware there could be danger, but I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that. I'm aware and that's good. I believe our school is safe."

Cynthia Rojas, 12, seventh grade:

Cynthia is really looking forward to being an eighth-grader next year. She expects to find really good teachers.

"Of course I would tell a teacher. I'd give all the facts. But I'd want to remain anonymous. They should just go get the kid and take him away, right now.

"I guess if it was a good kid who hadn't done anything wrong before, and I'd say an in-school suspension for one or two days. I used to feel really safe, and I still do feel safe. But I feel like I should be more careful and aware, and I am."

DeMarcus Maner, 12, seventh grade

DeMarcus is looking forward to eighth grade and academic challenges.

"Well, I'd try to go tell an adult. They should go talk to the person, calm them down and make them think about what they're about to do. I wouldn't care if people knew I reported it, because that person shouldn't have brought the thing into school.

"If it was the first time and just a stupid mistake, that person should have to go to a counselor.

"Second time? They must really want to do something. They must be mad. They should get a suspension. I feel like school is safe in general but I think about what can happen in the world and hope it doesn't happen here."

John Darling, 13, seventh grade:

John is seriously looking forward to eighth grade because, he says, it's one step closer to being finished with school.

"I'd anonymously tell the teacher who the person was, what the weapon was and where it was. I would expect the teacher to gather all the teachers and go find it.

"For consequences he or she should get an in- or out-of-school suspension the first time. It's still against the law, even if they say it was a mistake. I mean you have to know you can't do that - the teachers say it a lot. It's written on every rule list. You can't not know."

Brianna Wiley, 11, sixth grade:

Brianna says she'd like to get on through middle school so she can get her high school diploma and become an art teacher for fifth-graders.

"If a deputy was really nearby me, like within yards of me, I'd quickly tell him. Or I'd tell a teacher. I'd be scared. Very scared.

"The deputy or teacher would have to get the student and take him to the office. They should call the parents, and depending on the object, might even have to deal with the police. The student should be expelled or something.

"Pretty much even if it's not a bad person, they'd be creating a danger to others. They really could be planning something even if we all think it's a good person. What if they're troubled? Dangerous things don't belong in school, period. I think school is safe. We're all aware of dangers and consequences."

[Last modified October 26, 2006, 06:42:44]


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