Kathy Fowler (left) and Pat Lee, both parents of sophomores at Bothell High, examine drug paraphernalia brought to the meeting by Bothell Police.
Photo by Jeff Switzer/Northlake News.
by Jeff Switzer
BOTHELL--When they told their kids about the meeting last week, the responses ranged from "appalled horrification" to indifference.
Nearly a dozen parents will be joining Bothell High School's almost 1,500 returning students next week, and they've come to make it a safer place for the students as part of the Parents at School (P.S.) program.
Endorsed by the school and PTSA, P.S. provides an extra set of eyes and ears by having parents walk in pairs down the halls, behind the portables, and on nearby streets, hoping to deter bad behavior, combat truancy, lower incidents of smoking, and support the school's administration.
At the urging of Bothell's Dean of Students Jeanie Simmons, PTSA President Lynne Nieradzik visited the Parent Patrol Network program in Portland, Oregon, where parents walk the halls of Lincoln High School, an inner-city school there.
That program has been a raging success, creating a higher level of parental involvement in the school as well as battling truancy, smoking, and drug use.
"I got to thinking that if it straightened out this tough school, think of the prevention it could accomplish at Bothell High," Nieradzik said.
Now the program's coordinator here, Nieradzik, a five-year Bothell resident with an 11th-grade daughter at the school, has committed herself to walking the campus each morning from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. when the students are arriving.
About 16 parents, plus school staff and Bothell Police officers, met in the library at Bothell High last week to learn more about the program and sign up for shifts walking the campus before school, during the students' break, lunch time, and as students leave for the day.
Pal Williams, whose oldest son will be a sophomore next week, attended the meeting because of worrying rumors about Bothell High, rumors she said were put to rest when the administration and police filled in the details.
"This is really positive and I'm really glad there's a program like this here," Williams said. "I actually felt a little bit more peaceful after hearing the administrators give their perspective. I can't wait to get involved and help make this a safe place."
Simmons says the program is a win-win situation, delivering help to the administration and dispelling rumors about how bad the kids at Bothell High are, and how they're OK kids.
"We have 96 percent attendance, a great school, and great kids," she said. "But schools are a microcosm of society. Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco and inhalants are problems everyone needs to address."
Al Haynes, the school's principal, and other faculty members said that the staff and police spend 95 percent of their time chasing the 5 percent of the kids who cause problems. He said the rest of the students are where they are supposed to be, doing what they are supposed to be doing and following the rules.
Armed only with a walkie-talkie and an I.D. badge, the parents are asked only to be an adult presence, choosing the level of interaction they are comfortable with.
The school grounds and nearby residential blocks, where kids bolt to have a quick smoke during activity period and lunch, will be watched. Bothell has an open campus for all grade levels.
"We are not the police, but the effect is similar to a driver checking the speedometer when a police car is seen," Nieradzik said. "It serves as a reminder and encourages better choices."
Nieradzik said she was heartened by the encouragement and support for the program, and is planning additional meetings. "I'm very encouraged," she said. "Everyone who came signed up."
For more information, she can be reached at 485-6727.