High school graduates face many dangers The parents of...

LETTERS

May 13, 2001

High school graduates face many dangers

The parents of the Class of 2001 are to be congratulated! Each parent has shared the pleasure, the trials and the tribulations of watching their child arrive at a very special milestone, high school graduation. If memories of this time in our own lives are joyous, we anticipate the same for our graduate. What is a time for great joy also has the potential for unexpected and unwanted sadness. The amount of risk involved for our young people unfortunately continues to increase. So while we celebrate, it is also our responsibility as adults to discuss the need for care and caution.

Carroll County Public School students have been taught the best choice regarding drinking and premarital sex is abstinence. This message is conveyed through required programs in Health, Family Life and Human Development, and AIDS education. Students have also been subject to strong disciplinary policies and administrative procedures regarding the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. We know from past experiences, however, that without thought of consequences, alcohol and other drugs are used as a major part of the celebration that takes place during "Senior Week."

Alcohol lowers inhibitions, impairs judgment and harms coordination skills. Regardless of the encouragement by advertising and other media to the contrary, use of alcohol and other drugs increases the chance for car crashes, physical damage, high-risk sexual behaviors and legal problems. The parent of a graduating senior this year needs to be aware that their child may be exposed to potentially risky situations. Parents can talk with their child about how he or she will appropriately handle these occasions without compromising themselves or others.

The RAAM project (Reducing Availability of Alcohol to Minors) is an important resource here in Carroll County. This is a cooperative effort initiated through Junction, Inc., and implemented through the leadership of the Maryland State Police. Our cooperating law enforcement agencies and liquor retailers have been and will continue to be working as a team in the liquor stores and parking lots to prevent youth access to alcohol. We celebrate their efforts to make our community safe. If a parent has a son or daughter celebrating in Ocean City without them, they can check out the place where she or he will be staying by contacting the owner or landlord. Developing a plan with your child to stay in touch with you during the week, and reminding him or her of their responsibility regarding the care of the rental property are ideas worthy of note. It is always best to be clear about your expectations when talking with adolescents.

Resources are available to families if their child is alone or with other young friends in Ocean City. The "Play It Safe" booklet that will be distributed to seniors contains important emergency information as well as coupons and ideas for many fun things to do. And the Ocean City Police have also implemented RAAM, forming a partnership with liquor retailers and motel and hotel operators to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors.

Congratulations to our graduates and their families! I hope this helps make graduation a healthy and safe one for all of us.

Joanne M. Hayes

Westminster

The writer is substance abuse prevention coordinator for Carroll County public schools.

In favor of limiting pupil performance tests

Susan Reimer's column ("Testing tests patience of everyone concerned," May 8) is right on the money. MSPAP has become a high stakes test for the teachers and principals, but what does it teach our children?

The State Board of Education needs to involve parents in a review of this test. If we are going to keep using it, the test needs to be revised to report individual scores, eliminate the secrecy and make this test a precursor to the proposed high school exit tests where the answers will be a combination of short answer and multiple choice.

The "group work" on the existing test only tests the most able child in each group, and the "process" of getting the answer is sometimes scored for three points, while the correct answer is only worth one! This has little correlation to the real world, where results count.

Roger Fitzgerald

Hampstead

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