Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition takes on open campus lunch policy, and discusses possible drug testing of students.
Closing the Crescenta Valley High School campus for lunch was once again a topic of discussion during the Feb. 26 meeting of the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.
Parents at the meeting voiced their concern about having an open campus. At present CVHS is the only high school in the Glendale district that has an open campus allowing students to leave during lunch. This also allows non-students to come onto campus at times.
“Why are we still open?” asked one parent.
“That is an issue we are trying to address. School board members are talking right now about this issue,” said Assistant Principal Mark Brown.
Another question concerned the proposed volunteer drug testing program that is planned at the high school.
“We are still working on that,” Brown said.
Originally Principal Linda Evans wanted the program up and running by the end of February however, because of the amount of paperwork involved, implementation has been delayed while lawyers review the process.
Brown said the administration does plan on the program beginning before the end of the school year in June.
“The program will be voluntary. Parents can sign their child up to be randomly tested,” Brown explained.
Students who are signed up will be randomly chosen and asked to take a urine drug test. The results will be given to the parents and not to sheriff’s personnel. If a child refuses to take the test their parents will be notified.
While acknowledging the value of the program, in the past Evans said that random testing also gives students an excuse not to accept drugs or alcohol that may be offered to them. They can back away from the peer pressure to use drugs by saying they have been signed up to be tested and don’t want to take the risk.
The coalition is a grass roots organization founded to educate the community and give voice to the drug issues in Crescenta Valley. During Thursday’s meeting, Cristina Dam from the Right On Program spoke of how the brain functions and what stimulates the right verses the left side.
The left side of the brain, explained Dam, is responsible for logical and rational thinking. The right side is intuitive and creative.
She drew a parallel of the ability to use both sides of the brain to a person who has an injured leg walking up stairs. They can make it with one leg, but it takes time and is difficult. When using both legs in balance, they can not only climb the stairs, but do it quickly and with less effort.
In an earlier interview, the Right On Program founder John Marshall explained his theory of balanced brain/balanced life.
“The left side [of the brain] is analytical. [Subjects] that use this side of the brain have been increasing in every facet of our school system. Kids are bombarded with tests that [exercise the left side],” Marshall said.
Due to budget cuts and changes in curriculum, classes that exercise the right side of the brain – like art and music – have given way to more logical and analytical courses.
“We are imbalanced,” he said. “Drugs and alcohol knock down the left side and make the right side more accessible.”
His theory is that some drugs feed the intuitive and social side of the brain providing stimulation that used to come from expression through art and music – subjects that years ago began in elementary schools.
Coalition executive member Susan Dubin who had attended a drug educational program made another presentation. She had fellow members demonstrate how mentors, like teachers and coaches along with family members, need to protect children from the outside influences of drugs and alcohol. She also demonstrated how easy those defenses could be weakened when family problems and changes in school are made.
Both school resource office Deputy Scott Shinagawa and representatives from Glendale police stated that drug arrests were slowing down in the area. But, they added, that decrease didn’t mean that kids have stopped using drugs.
“We have a very prevalent drug problem,” Shinagawa said.
Glendale Officer Joe Allen related a story that happened to him recently. He was at Montrose Park at a baseball game when he noticed some kids acting suspiciously. He followed them into the park’s bathroom and found they were handing out Vicodin.
He warned parents that kids are not only getting drugs from dealers.
“Your home could be their pharmacy,” he said.
The coalition is a grass roots organization that was founded to educate and share information concerning drug use in Crescenta Valley. The coalition is powered by volunteers. Anyone interested in helping or would like to know more about the organization is invited to the meetings. Meetings take place on the last Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the library at Crescenta Valley High School, 2900 Community Ave., La Crescenta.