StatenEmmy-winning broadcast journalism stations rarely chase down high school students, but it tends to happen more than is socially acceptable at West Linn High School.

Following the discovery of a drug ring involving past and present students, many have written off the West Linn student population as a group of drug-dealing or drug-using individuals.

While a minority of West Linn students certainly mistake having fun with negatively life-altering situations, a neglected majority of students work extremely hard day after day. The media might find it more exciting to talk about a few students’ mistakes, but the people who actually attend, teach and administrate tend to focus on the positives.

“Our students are tremendous young adults with high character, integrity and an outstanding work ethic around academics,” Principal Lou Bailey said. “Our school is full of great Lion pride. I would challenge anyone from the media to come spend one day inside our school, so they can see what an amazing school culture and environment West Linn has.”

Lion pride is a belief that stands out at West Linn High School — and not just in the administrative offices.

“I believe that the media looks down on us, but I can see where and why they would. This large drug bust doesn’t help our high school look mature. A lot more people are involved in church activities such as Young Life and Wednesday Nights (at Willamette Christian Church) than the media or surrounding community actually knows about. These positive influences are changing West Linn for the better,” Cole Stockton, a sophomore, said.

Sophomore Nicole Joerger added, “I do not think that the attention regarding this issue was necessary. WLHS is a typical high school, and all high schools deal with drug abuse, many worse than West Linn. I would like to point out to the media encouraging facts about our high school such as our academics and test scoring.”

Lion pride is also readily found throughout student government.

“I think the media attention was overinflated due to the reputation West Linn already had with drugs. The stereotypes affiliated punish a broad majority based on actions from an exclusive minority,” ASB officer Michael Haffner said. “West Linn is separate from most schools in the sense of an overwhelmingly integrated community. The school and the students themselves together form an amazingly positive force.”

Lion Pride is also widely accepted across the student athletic community.

“I think that the news coverage of the scandal was necessary for informative purposes, but I don’t think that all students (should) be blamed. We support each other no matter what. I know there is always a teacher or friends that can help me,” Jill Knott, a dancer, said.

“If you think everyone at West Linn does bad things you need to look closer and see that it is a really great community. My favorite aspect is that everyone helps each other out even if they have some issues. We will still accept them and want to help them change for the better,” lacrosse player Colin Squires said.

West Linn students are not the next coming of the Cali Cartel. They are students who value faith, academic achievement and community. Broad strokes from the brush of misconception cannot overcome Lion pride.

Madison Staten is a sophomore at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.

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