Dear Escalante Middle School Community,
Over the past week, I have held community meetings with each grade level to talk to students about a topic that poses a significant health risk for kids: illegal substances.
At EMS we take several steps to prevent students from bringing illegal substances onto campus. I’ve found that clear communication with students about both the health and disciplinary consequences of illegal substances is the most proactive and best possible deterrent, and it is a place that parents really can support us. I encourage you to do some reading online about the health risks of alcohol, vaping and marijuana use on the adolescent brain, and to have follow-up conversations with your kids about those negative impacts. In addition, I also share with our students that distribution of any illegal substance on campus may result in expulsion from school. Because an adolescent’s brain is undergoing significant development, kids are more likely to take risks and not consider the consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is extremely important that students are reminded of these consequences in an effort to protect them from making a costly mistake.
In addition to communication and education, our school district also utilizes a drug-detecting dog to conduct random searches of the school. Just recently, the La Plata County Sheriff’s department has added a non-bite drug dog onto their force so that we no longer need to contract with a handler outside of our community. This will both save our school district money and provide a local resource that can be a more frequent deterrent as we strive to keep our schools drug free.
In the past, the dog searched lockers and backpacks in the hallway and did not enter classrooms. I’ve learned recently it is a common procedure in area schools to also randomly empty one to two classrooms and search those rooms. Because we have not historically done this practice at Escalante, it did surprise me, a few students, parents and staff when students were asked to leave the classroom to allow for a search of the room. The dog does not conduct body searches of students. I apologize that we did not communicate this change in practice beforehand, and please feel free to contact me if you have concerns as I am currently catching up on how our district’s procedures are shifting with the new dog and handler. If there are additional changes, I will communicate that information throughout our school community.
On a much lighter and brighter note, I have been honored to collect compliments about our student body frequently over the past few weeks from community partners who seek me out to praise our students for their use of manners, genuine interest in learning, kindness, and enthusiasm. This is a wonderful school to lead, and I am extremely thankful for each of the 516 students who walk through our doors each day.