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Santa Teresa High School Activities Ban

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Thursday, September 19th, 2002 @ 2:04 AM
Subj: Santa Teresa High School Activities Ban
From: rhorii@prodigy.net (RONALD R HORII)

This might be a good topic for a forum discussion. On 9/16/02, the Mercury News had an article "Parents will help handle flap over use of high school field." (http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/4084831.htm) This was about Santa Teresa High School and the ban on certain activities at the school due to protests from the immediate neighboars about noise. This sounds a lot like the fight against the expansion of the athletic facilities at West Valley College by neighbors of the college. It also sounds like the time when people in Saratoga were complaining about how noisy the newly-opened Hwy 85 was and wanted it closed. It's a classic case of individual rights vs. the public good. A task force has been formed to resolve the issue at Santa Teresa High. This Website might be a good forum for public input. Here's my two cents on the impact of the current ban on after-school activities (by the way, I do not have kids at Santa Teresa High):

Law enforcement experts will tell you that the best way to prevent juvenile crime is with after-school activities. If this is so, the converse may also be true: reduce after-school activities, and juvenile crime will increase.

If after-school activities are curtailed, the groups may try to find other venues, shifting the problem to someone else's neighborhood. Is this fair? This could cause increased friction with neighbors at other schools, causing a chain reaction. This could result in the widespread curtailing of after-school activities, with the children being the immediate losers, but the neighborhoods being the ultimate losers.

Statistics have shown that the most dangerous time in a student's career is high school graduation night. Students often go to private parties, where they can get drunk, take drugs, or get into fights. The end result has been that many students or people around them have been injured or killed in auto accidents or acts of violence, or the graduates have gotten in trouble with the law, ruining their future careers. (See some statistics here: http://www.madd.org/stats/0,1056,2521,00.html) To combat this, schools across the country have instituted chaperoned Grad Night parties. The result of this has been a tremendous drop in deaths, injuries, and arrests for graduates of those schools. Santa Teresa High School has held their grad night party on the campus, like most schools. If they cannot find another venue and have to cancel their grad night, the cost can be measured in ruined lives, not just for the students, but for people in the community.

The Santa Teresa High School carnival has been a tradition as long as I can remember. My kids used to love going to it every year. It was a fun event for the neighborhood and a good way of raising money for school groups. If this is cancelled, the school groups would either have to cutback on their activities or find other ways of raising funds. Be prepared to be interrupted frequently at dinner by students selling candy, magazines, etc.

If school facilities deteriorate because of the loss of funds from fundraisers such as the carnival, this can have impacts on the neighborhood. A shabby school can promote an attitude among teenagers that can spread into the neighborhoods in the form of littering, vandalism, and graffiti.

On the other hand, people have a right to a reasonable level of peace and quiet. How reasonable is reasonable? It's hard to say. Different people have different levels of tolerance. That level can also vary depending on the time of day and environmental factors. Demanding total silence is unreasonable, as well as impossible in any environment. A certain level of noise is the price you pay for living in the city. However, too much noise can be damaging to a person's health and well-being. A middle-ground standard needs to be set and a moderate course of action defined. This can take the form of limiting the times, days of the week, and number of days per month that certain activities can take place, depending on how much noise they make. Also, the volume level and positioning of PA systems could be addressed. This would be better than an out-right ban. The situation now is too extreme. It's like banning all pets in the neighborhood because a few neighbors complained about a barking dog.

Ron Horii

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