David Walsh, in his article, Kids blow smoke at Olympic dream, makes the assumption that High Storrs permits students to smoke. Actually they are actively discouraged from smoking at school and in the surrounding area.
Sanctions typically consist of a phone call home. The purpose of this more liberal approach is to treat students with a level of respect and maturity unknown in many other schools. This, I believe, enhances the ability of students to become more independent.
They are taught not only the curriculum, but life skills, and how to live in a liberal, multi-cultural society, a key factor in the transition from secondary to higher education. There is a stronger line that will be taken, should students continue to disobey. The Code of Conduct states that persistent refusal to follow instructions is punishable by ‘internal, fixed term or even permanent exclusion’. Does this sound like a school that encourages or accepts smoking?
Although High Storrs’s attitude to smoking may not be as totalitarian as some prefer, it is by no means encouraged. I believe the misunderstanding largely lies in David’s confusion between acceptance and encouragement.
He claims that his partner ‘saw no fewer than 38 young teenagers blowing stinking tobacco fumes at 11am’. Some of my friends ‘merrily skip out for a wheeze between lessons’ and all of said people vehemently deny his partner’s count of 38. Who are we to believe?
The students who are out there smoking, or his partner, arching his or her neck to peek out through the curtains at the feral youth? I would trust the former.
Mr Walsh should re-evaluate his priorities. Is he a serious journalist or a stay-at-home killjoy? He should also think about what he writes: is he writing objectively, in a way to help readers or is he expressing his discontent at his life’s progress?
Robbie McKinney, High Storrs student
NB: David wrote in Speaking Out, an opinion column.