"I got news for you: you are going to be tempted to do things you shouldn't do - and you better think twice," Ron Leone, Coordinator of Child Welfare and Attendance, told Park Middle School students at one such assembly last week.
Leone discussed a situation in which a boy on his way to school remembered that he was carrying a pocketknife, but instead of returning home to drop it off, he continued to school. On his way, a resident saw him playing with the knife and reported it to the police. The police contacted school officials, who disciplined the student.
Leone also told a story about a group of girls drinking alcohol on campus. One had mixed juice and alcohol in a water bottle and shared it with classmates. All were punished, even one student who had taken a sip and spit it out.
"We have a zero tolerance policy," said Leone. He repeated the message as he cupped his hand in the shape of a zero and waved it in the air. "We don't care how little, because we have zero tolerance."
Leone and Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Jim Burcio have been presenting the assemblies at Antioch schools to help students sensibly handle difficult situations, and encourage them to ask for help from teachers and administrators rather than taking risky matters into their own hands.
He also discussed the school district's safety hotline number, (800) 863-7600, and why students might want or need to use it. The hotline is available for those who need help or advice and feel they have no one to confide in. It's printed on posters in every classroom, on the back of ID cards and in the student handbook. Students can also call the hotline if they are being threatened at school.
"Students making good choices and standing up for what is right is the key to success," said Park Principal Scott Bergerhouse. "Today's assembly is about making good choices. It is called Discipline Assembly for lack of a better word."
"Our goal is to reduce the number of transfers. There was just too many last year," said Leone, adding that the district hit an all-time record of about 400 student transfers due to disciplinary actions. He finds that the problems begin with sixth graders, increase during seventh grade and peak with eighth graders.
Students Rachel Harrison and Gianna Marandola agreed that the assembly gave them a new perspective on acceptable campus behavior.
"The assembly was really good," said Harrison, 11, adding that Leone's presentation was fun. "I learned a lot."
"It surprises me that students would want to do those things," said Marandola, 11. "I thought the assembly was great."
For more information, contact Jim Burcio or Ron Leone at 706-2205.