Helping our kids grow up

There are many compelling reasons to close the Vashon High School campus, putting an end to a senior ritual that administrators say is often abused. Thirty minutes is hardly time to get into town and back with a Subway sandwich. Why should kids be burning up fossil fuel for a jaunt like that anyway? And then, of course, some are doing more than grabbing a sandwich. In light of the Healthy Youth Survey that found teen marijuana use higher on Vashon than the rest of the state, administrators have legitimate reasons for concern.

At the same time, Chris Carter, a junior at VHS, has put forward a compelling proposal that seeks to find a middle ground in this debate. His policy, now before the school board, would call for tough penalties for those who abuse the privilege, would limit the exits students can use to leave the school and would give the administration wide discretion to revoke the privilege.

The proposal won’t solve all the problems. VHS is seriously understaffed during the lunch hour, when teachers — by way of their union contract — are “duty free,” leaving Principal Susan Hanson and Vice Principal Stephanie Spencer to patrol the entire campus. If Hanson and Spencer are at the designated exits checking student ID before they leave, they won’t be keeping an eye on the rest of the “porous campus,” as some call it.

But we think the proposal — and the thoughtful kids behind it — deserve a chance. They’ve taken this matter seriously. They’ve come up with an approach that has merit. And they’ve made it clear that they’ll do what they can to make this work.

Many of these kids will be old enough to join the Army and head to Iraq next fall. They’re on the cusp of adulthood. Here’s an opportunity to help them in that journey before they’re out in the world, completely on their own.

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