Drug tests valuable tool at BA

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 7, 2002

Students at Brookhaven Academy have more than just their parentsas a reason to stay away from drugs thanks to a random drug testingpolicy at the school.

The policy, which was adopted in 1994, has become a valuabletool for teenagers facing peer pressure, according to severalstudents at the school.

“It would help me if I was ever around it (drugs),” said TylerLofton, a BA senior.

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Students are picked at random by a computer selecting studentidentification numbers on an average of six times a year. Thenumber selection begins the testing procedure, which is kept asecret until time for the actual test.

“The guidance counselor and myself are the only two that knowwhen we are going to test. We don’t even contact the drug testingcompany until the day of the testing,” said Headmaster DanBoyce.

Then school officials check to make sure the students picked arepresent. The 20-25 students are then sent to a designated areawhere the drug testing company supervises the urine testprocess.

“We think we’ve taken all the necessary measures to ensure anhonest test,” said Boyce.

Boyce believes it is important to have drug testing in schools,not just because it helps produce better students, but also becauseit can be a way to help a young person in need.

“If a child has a problem, it’s a way to make the parents awareso that they can deal with it as a family,” he said. “We’re not sonaive that we think our students are not exposed to drugs, and Ithink random drug testing is just one thing we can do to combatit.”

The consequence for testing positive for drugs is suspension,mandatory counseling and any other requirements dictated by theheadmaster for the first violation. The second violation bringsindefinite suspension.

Although the policy is part of the school’s handbook, rarelyhave consequences had to be enforced, said Boyce, who has not hadany students test positive since he became headmaster two yearsago.

He believes that is a good sign that the drug testing programserves an important role in the school. He also credits drugeducation efforts at BA.

“Your real work in drug education with kids has to bepreventive. That’s where the battle is fought and won,” saidBoyce.

Sixth graders are involved in DARE (Drug and Alcohol ResistanceEducation) through the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. Drugeducation continue in junior high and high school with electivehealth classes that often cover the topic.

The education efforts combined with the unpredictable drugtesting at the school works to keep students saying “No” instead ofexperimenting with addictive substances.

“I think it’s a really good idea because it makes the schoolhave a safer environment,” said Lindsey Holmes, a 17-year-oldstudent whose identification number has been picked threetimes.

Fellow senior Lindy Salyer also was picked to undergo a randomdrug test while in high school, and agrees it is a fundamentalpolicy.

“The only thing I disagree with is that people are just pickedrandomly. I think everyone should be tested on a regular basis,”said Salyer.

The positive feedback from the student lets Boyce know therandom drug tests do affect the way students act away fromcampus.

“Drugs and their influence cut across every sector of oursociety. Regardless of one’s status in society or educationalbackground, drugs are a threat,” he said. “I don’t think we aseducators or as parents can ever do enough to combat the presenceof drugs in our society, but I think random drug testing is onegood tool.”