Lakeridge cracks the whip on school dances
Student behavior at Lakeridge High School prompted the administration to cancel the school's last on-site dance of the school year, which would have been held on March 16, following the talent show.
This closure does not include the prom, which is held off-site. The cancellation was announced last week through a Listserve of emails sent to Pacer homes.
Principal Mike Lehman said that the administrators have three areas that they are concerned about: Drug and alcohol use, dress code violations and inappropriate public displays of affection.
After the Valentine's Day dance on Feb. 10, Lehman met with the administrators and the faculty staff chaperones to get feedback.
'We were all in agreement that on site dances held at Lakeridge in the cafeteria are difficult to supervise effectively ...' he said.
The school usually has at least 12 parent volunteer chaperones stationed at the exits and six staff supervising the dance floor. But partly, due to the school's layout, students can access to their lockers. Students are restricted from other areas of the school.
'Students are able to come in through the front doors, go through all the checkpoints, and then later appear on the dance floor in some case with different outfits on or different clothing,' said Lehman.
The school's check-in at dances includes: Greeting the administration and paying the admission typically to parent volunteers, passing through hired security, who are trained to go through coats and bags much like the front security at a Portland Trail Blazer game or concert, and then passing by a posted Lake Oswego Police Department officer, who is there in case any behaviors appear suspicious.
'Police officers are equipped both with the technology and the training to do a more thorough check with the drug and alcohol involvement,' said Lehman.
Police Chief Don Johnson said that the local police department is stepping up its involvement at the high schools (see sidebar). Just recently, the Lakeridge school resource officer Det. Kevin Webb gave a presentation in health classes about how to stay safe and make good choices at school dances. He also went to the Lakeridge's recent Morp ('prom' spelled backwards) dance even though it was held at the Tiffany Center in Portland. He spent a lot of time riding the elevator up and down with the students, said Johnson.
Lehman said that he also has support from the parent community. Many comments are pouring in via email, said Lehman, who estimates that he has gotten a 20 to 1 positive response.
The Lakeridge Associated Student Body and Pacer Council have both met with Lehman and are being asked to contribute ideas about how to make prom safer for all students.
'It's time to take a closer look at what everyone can do to make it fun for everybody and safe for everybody,' said Lehman.
A relationship between the Lake Oswego Police Department and Lake Oswego High School led to the quick arrest of two teenage boys, Grant Mackintosh and Sydney Heitman-Allen, both 16, in connection with the Feb. 6 vandalism of about 20 cars and graffiti on a home on Fifth Street and the Forest Hills Elementary School building.
Over the last half of a year the police department has had a school resource officer assigned part-time to each high school - Det. Jonathan Funkhauser at LOHS and Det. Kevin Webb at Lakeridge. Because of that relationship, when Lt. Doug Treat saw the tagging used in the vandalism spree, he thought to call the schools to see if the administrators might recognize the letters. He couldn't read all of the writing, but he could make out an S-I-D.
The school administrators did recognize the tagging and the police department sent out a detective to interview the boys immediately. They were able to resolve the case within five hours.
'One of the key initiatives that I would have is to build a strong connection with the schools, particularly the high schools,' said Lake Oswego Police Chief Don Johnson, who has been in his position for about seven months. 'If we take care of the kids ... we're going to have a better community.'
This is the first time in seven or eight years that an officer has been specifically assigned to the high schools, said Johnson. There has been an officer who does safety education, such as stranger danger, in the elementary schools, but the police department is trying to recultivate that type of relationship with the high schools.
Johnson said that the school resource officers are on campus at both schools almost every single day. That could simply mean becoming a familiar face to the students and getting to know them. The officers are also trying to build a two-way relationship with the principals so that, as in the vandalism incident, they can call the schools for help on a case just like the principals might call them for help with a particular issue.
Johnson said that there have been more students arrested, cited and expelled this year than in the past, but that might just be due to increased police presence on the campuses.
'We're just more aware of it and taking action now,' he said.
Johnson also plans on holding some parent nights to help educate about different issues, such as teen safety when participating on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.