Alcohol wands used for safer atmosphere at school dance
A new procedure regarding alcohol at school dances was put into place on Saturday, February 21 at the Turnabout dance. Students entering the dance had to blow into alcohol wands, and personal items like purses or bags were checked in and searched. If during the initial alcohol wand screening alcohol was detected, students were sent to a separate location where members of the Shorewood Police Department would administer a Breathalyzer test.
According to Tim Kenney, principal, the new procedures were created after incidents at Homecoming where many students were caught drinking.
“It felt like there was a lot of trust that had been lost between Student Council and the administration because of the actions of some of the students surrounding Homecoming,” Kenney said. “In having conversations with the leadership group from Student Council they actually made a request to do alcohol screening on the way in [to Turnabout].”
“It was going to happen no matter what,” said Olivia Holbrook, vice president of Student Council and one of the principal creators of the procedure. “We are one of the last schools in the North Shore to implement this kind of system.”
According to Holbrook, many schools have implemented similar procedures, including Cedarburg High School, where Joe Patek, assistant principal, worked before coming to Shorewood.
“The program in Cedarburg worked similarly to how we did ours,” Patek said. “It was essentially a way of ensuring that the dance was going to be a safe environment.”
According to Patek, there were very few people who were dissatisfied with the procedure at Cedarburg.
“Most people were understanding of what the goal was and understanding of trying to provide that safe environment,” Patek said. “There’s always going to be a few that may disagree with why we’re doing it … but our goal is to try to provide that safe environment.”
“[The procedure] is going to increase our chances to have a 100 percent alcohol and drug-free event, which means it’ll be a safer event,” Kenney said.
This year at Turnabout, no students were caught in possession of or under the influence of alcohol upon entering the dance nor during the dance.
“The goal anytime you’re doing something like what we do with Turnabout, where we’re screening kids, is not to catch anyone,” Patek said. “Turnabout … was awesome because we met our goal.”
“In my opinion, this Turnabout was one of the best dances I’ve been to,” Holbrook said. “I definitely think that was due to the … people who came, and the lack of substances allowed people to have a really good time being themselves.”
Other students agree.
“It was definitely different than other dances because everyone went into it with a different mindset, so it was kind of what you made of it,” said Sarah Gruber, senior. “My friends and I had a lot of fun … It was a lot different than a different dance but I thought it was more fun, in a way.”
According to Gruber, there were two people working the screening process.
“[The screening process] was quicker than I expected it,” Gruber said. “A couple of people had to do it a couple of times because you had to blow really hard [into the wand] but it was quicker than people were expecting it to be.”
by Dylan Larson-Harsch