In Bethesda, Principal Alan Goodwin of Walt Whitman High School has suspended students from extracurricular activities after they were caught drinking alcohol at a house party. Some students are questioning whether out-of-school behavior should be punished within school walls.
Walt Whitman High School is known for its strong test scores and ambitious students, but some students also like to party, says their principal.
"Our students occasionally go to drinking parties," says Goodwin. "And sometimes the police enter those parties and give citations."
Goodwin says that's exactly what happened at a local house party late last month: "There were, I was told, 35 citations given. Some of the students came forward and said they were involved. They then met with me and got their consequence."
Some athletes had to sit out a couple of games. Other students did community service. "A lot of times, it's just a few hours in the office, running errands, doing clerical work, answering phones," notes Goodwin.
One Whitman junior says the principal shouldn't get involved in what happens outside of school. After all, he says the students are already being punished -- by the police and their parents. He argues that that the school is not a justice system for juveniles. The police and courts already serve that purpose.
Nonetheless, Goodwin says it's important to drive home the dangers of underage drinking: "To suffer a brief punishment versus losing your life or limb in a tragic accident is well-worth the effort."And he says he's prepared to go the extra mile to keep his students safe, even if it means picking up some criticism along the way.
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