Educational Student Journalism

In my opinion, the best way to prevent drug use and abuse among our youth is increased education. I’m not talking about the McGruff television advertising campaigns, or the Mr. Mackey guidance counselors who go into classrooms saying “drugs are bad…mkay?” I mean real talk education and journalism done by the students themselves.



SaraRose Martin, an 18 year-old senior of Fauquier High School and co-editor of the school paper, had the same idea. She penned a story about the process and dangers related to “Dabbing.” Dabbing, involves smoking a distilled version of the active ingredients in marijuana off a nail, delivering a powerful high.



This process was already in practice among some of the youth she knew, and her idea was to educate them about the effects of their “recreational behavior” so that they would stop. Smart girl!



The principal of the school, in his infinite wisdom, pulled the article from the school paper saying that it was too “mature” for the paper. “In a letter to Martin, he wrote that he was concerned that students would “be exposed to a new and dangerous drug without adult guidance.” (The Washington Post 2015)



Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision in 1988, school administrators are able to preview student publications, and have full censorship authority. This authority, in my opinion, does not mean that they should prevent the distribution of knowledge.  The proper step in this case would have been to require that either the article be written so that the article read more as a public service announcement for educational purposes, or that she include interviews with health teachers and the school nurse to gain medical creditability, while reinforcing the school’s policies regarding drugs.



Personally, I have never used drugs. I received my education by observing my schoolmates, neighbors, and family members. I have seen what it does to the body and want no part of that for me. Being a scholarly type, I read the school paper, and would have enjoyed the banned article finding it educational.



At least, young Ms. Martin’s peace received some press online.



Let’s encourage our youth so that they will make informed life choices. Let us not fall into the pit of censorship out of fear. In the end, we are all educators, and our examples feed our future.



Here’s a taste of SaraRose’s article:



Dabs, also known as hash oil or Butane Hash Oil (BHO), is the most recent craze to dominate the drug subculture. To create dabs, marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, is extracted using butane to make wax concentrate, which is then “dabbed” onto a plate, known as a nail, that has been heated with a blowtorch. When the resulting vapor is inhaled, the user receives a direct hit of 70 to 90 percent THC, nearly three times the potency of smoking strong marijuana strains. The new drug phenomenon is known as dabbing.


Senior Tim O’Leary, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said that dabbing appeared in Fauquier County only a few years ago, and it’s gaining popularity. Dabs are small, easy to conceal and make, and produce no distinctive pot odor, which might lead to detection. The popular reference to smoking marijuana, 4:20, has been replaced by 7:10 (OIL upside down).



Education Gone Wild

When I was a child, we had multiple tests of our skills and aptitudes. Every week it was a spelling test, power math (also known as torture for the slow kids), and dictation. While growing up and going through that cruelty called education, I knew that it was forcing kids to have a basic comprehension and range of skills in order to be contributing members of society.

Now there is the Common Core. Some call it unnecessary heightening of the bar, others call it a means by which we force all children to be the same; and others simply call it “Satan’s handiwork.” Personally, I think of it as an unnecessary means by which we categorize our children; demoralize our teachers; and force children to learn things that will never be used in their everyday lives.

Adopted by 44 states, including Maryland and D.C., the Common Core is a set of English and math standards that spell out what students should know and when. The standards for elementary math emphasize that kids should not only be able to solve arithmetic problems using the tried-and-true methods their parents learned, but understand how numbers relate to each other.
2+2=What? Parents Rail Against Common Core Math. (NBC4 Washington)

I grant you that in my youth, we had many tests. I remember taking the Iowa test of basic skills, Literacy Passport Tests, Stanford Achievement Tests, and the Virginia Standards of Learning or (SOL). Too many tests, just to make sure that no child, worth saving, is left behind. After they came out with the SOL, I remember laughing uncontrollably, as without passing this test, you are unable to either pass to the next grade or graduate high school. Obviously the legislature wanted to tell the kids that they would have to learn the material or be SOL. Only in this case meaning shit out of luck.

I doubt that all this testing is necessary. A common standard of learning is required, but children do not need to have an understanding of physics, calculus, and geometry before they hit puberty. They need to grow at the speed, which, for them, is optimum. Gifted children, such as myself, can learn at a faster rate, and normal children can learn at the rate best suited to them.