Brazen Middle Schoolers Shock Leaders into Action

Brazen Middle Schoolers Shock Leaders into Action
Posted by FoM on March 19, 2000 at 21:25:35 PT
By Linda Spice of the Journal Sentinel Staff
Source: JSOnline
Students in Palmyra-Eagle school boldly disregard drug, drinking rules.Adolescent rebelliousness turned into in-your-face misbehavior by middle schoolers who drank screwdrivers during gym class, downed rum in the locker room and videotaped themselves drinking and smoking marijuana at a wild party.
Those and other blatant misdeeds attributed to 13- and 14-year-olds who attend Palmyra-Eagle Middle School have police and school officials mobilizing to correct the situation before the problems infect the entire school system."We do know there's a problem," said Palmyra Police Chief Scott Neubauer. "What we're looking for is help from the parents to try to stop this problem."Neubauer, Eagle Police Chief Hans Lux, school officials, representatives of the Waukesha County district attorney's office, municipal leaders and parents all will gather at the middle school at 7 p.m. today to address concerns over drug and alcohol use among the students.Local officials are so disturbed that the Palmyra Village Board will take a break from its meeting, which starts at 6 p.m., so members can attend the session at the middle school.Almost everyone agrees that, thus far, 1999-2000 has been far from yearbook-picture-perfect for the middle school.Neubauer, in fact, says he has seen none other like it in his 15 years as chief.His department investigated the much-publicized Dec. 11 party at which youths drank, smoked marijuana and fondled one another on videotape, which they intended to send to a friend who was injured in a drunken driving accident.That, it turns out, was only the tip of the iceberg.Since September, police and school officials have dealt with:Two girls who drank vodka and orange juice in the locker room during gym class. In a separate incident, four girls were caught drinking rum in the locker room. Most recently, a middle school student was caught with marijuana in his possession. Another was caught with drug paraphernalia. "I would normally see none at the junior high," Neubauer said of such incidents. "One or two would be an exceptional year. . . . It's extremely disturbing."Eagle Police Chief Lux said authorities and school officials will work more closely to address the problems, and plan to enlist parents in their efforts."We want to be able to give (parents) some general idea as to what we feel is going on," he said. "We've had other incidents even after the big one (the videotaped party), so to speak, involving middle school kids and alcohol and drugs within the school itself. It continues, and we don't know why."Lux said the biggest challenge may be to counter the troubling dynamic that has seen those who have run afoul of the law or school officials actually become cult heroes in the eyes of fellow students."Because of them getting into trouble, they've gained greater status among their peers," Lux said.He said police are concerned because in the past 10 years the Palmyra-Eagle area has seen six teenagers killed in alcohol-related crashes. He and others fear if middle school students become too emboldened now, tragedy will await them later.Palmyra-Eagle Schools Superintendent Jerry Rosso, who has a child in the middle school, said that drug and alcohol issues among students are not new. The way students are acting, however, is."One of the differences I see is in the situation where we've had students drinking, they've been very open and blatant," he said.Palmyra-Eagle Middle School Principal Tim Kooi said in cases where students have been caught drinking or with drugs on campus, the youths have been suspended, referred to police and required to participate in a student assistance program that addresses drug and alcohol issues."All our kids are good kids," Kooi said. "We have to look at the kids as being worthwhile human beings. Some have more problems than others and try to find recognition, try to fulfill some need, through using drugs or alcohol."This is a good place for kids to learn. We are doing good things. The teachers want very much, as I do, to see the community and the school come together to tackle this problem."Carolynn Loveless, who works at the middle school and has a child attending it, said: "It's a hard time for kids. It's a transitional time. They're going from being kids to being young adults. There are so many different issues out there. I think from what I hear in the community and up at the school that everyone wants to be there to help. No one's pointing fingers. It's, 'What can we do?' "Loveless, a member of the Palmyra Village Board, encouraged other trustees to attend tonight's session at the middle school.Village Board member Tim Ash said "it's becoming disturbing" that alcohol and drug incidents, once limited to high school students, are occurring at the middle school."Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 20, 2000.Related Article:Parent Will Get a Ticket for Allowing Son's Party
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