Suspensions for drugs and fighting increase

Northwood has seen an increase in fight and drug-related suspensions early this school year. By Tori Nothnagel/The Omniscient

A new year, new kids and new teachers brought new challenges to Northwood’s front door. There have been more incidents involving fights, drugs and alcohol this year than there have been in the past four years.

According to principal Chris Blice, this year there have been three fights so far, as opposed to only one last year.

“Primarily it has been our freshmen [fighting]. New school, big place, lots of people, new environment and people get caught up in things and let things get away from them,” he said.

Since most of the participants were younger, they experienced different consequences than an older student might have.

“[Students that are] 16 years and older can be charged as adults. Fifteen and under are charged with juvenile petitions,” Blice said.

Blice believes that these incidents have, in some ways, affected the school’s reputation negatively.

“We’ve had folks who are interested in putting their children here at our school [contact me about incidents]; it happened a few weeks ago after a situation. I got a call from a parent who was supposed to come on Friday of that week and she was very concerned,” he said.

Although the three fights are high for Northwood, the number is low compared to other high schools in the area. Senior Charles Hope believes that Northwood is a great school despite the recent events.

“Hands down, I love Northwood,” Hope said. “I don’t think it’s a bad place. It’s just that teenage kids are going to make mistakes. It just happens.”

There has been a lull in fighting, and some credit the turnaround to steps the administration took.

“We’ve responded to [fights] quickly, fairly and firmly,” Blice said. “We’ve talked to parents and we’ve sat down with the young people and assured them that they have our attention.”

The number of fights has gone down for the most part, but the fight against drugs and alcohol continues to be a struggle.

“[Drugs] are something we don’t want in our school,” Blice said. “I think a positive piece that has come out of [busts] is that we are receiving information about this from students who are not happy with this being in our school and don’t want it to be in their school,” Blice said.

Hope agrees that drugs and fighting don’t belong in the educational system.

“I feel like you should come to school to get an education, not make it a drug lord place or come to school to fight people,” Hope said.

Unlike fighting, students who bring drugs and alcohol to school are harder to catch because while fights are out in the open, drug and alcohol use tends to be more discrete.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to prevent it. I think we’re going to keep trying to do some of the right things. We are going to encourage [students] to do the right things,” Blice said.

Consequences vary depending on what rules students are violating.

“If you look at the student code of conduct it makes a distinction between possession and under the influence versus buying, selling, transmitting. There is a three-tier system for possession and under the influence. Buying and selling is long term suspension the first time,” he said.

Blice is confident that he and the administration can stop the frequent fighting, drugs and alcohol at Northwood as well as create an environment that will impress colleges.

“I want our high school to be held in high esteem, not for me, [but] for [students],” Blice said. “When you leave here and you apply to colleges and universities I want people to look at your applications and say ‘Oh, Northwood, that is a great school.’”

–By Jessica Clayton