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Drug-tested students eligible for discounts

February 03, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Area School District students who submit to voluntary drug tests will get discounts from local merchants in a new program offered by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber Foundation.

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"The results are not reported to the school. The results are not reported to the police," area businessman Charles Schlichter told several hundred 10th-graders Thursday morning at an assembly at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

"In the event of a positive test, the student and the parents are notified," he said.

Schlichter approached the school board last year after learning about the Teens Resisting Unhealthy Choices Everyday (TRUCE) program in Little Rock, Ark.

"I'm going to take the test because you get some good benefits for being drug-free," sophomore Nathan Wingerd of Chambersburg said. "It's just a plus for being drug-free."

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"I heard some kids talking in the hallway. They weren't going to do it," said sophomore Tristan Jones. He said he would participate in a voluntary program, but had reservations about compulsory testing.

"Some people believe it's against their rights. I believe the same way," he said.

In exchange for voluntary urinalysis, students receive discounts of from 10 percent to 35 percent from about 30 restaurants, bowling alleys, arcades, clothing stores and other businesses, according to TRUCE Coordinator Pat Massa.

She said the Chamber of Commerce is recruiting more businesses, some of which offer preferential hiring to TRUCE members.

Lynda Cook, assistant superintendent for pupil services, said the proposal was run past administration, faculty and student groups before the board voted Nov. 10 to allow the program at the high school and Faust Junior High School.

"The consensus was as long as it's voluntary, it's OK," Cook said. The district has no compulsory testing for students who want to participate in sports or other activities and TRUCE testing requires permission from students and parents, she said.

Participating students in grades eight through 12 will get a tamper-proof photo ID card good until they graduate, refuse to take a test, or test positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates or alcohol, Cook said.

Students would be selected at random by computer for testing by Summit Health technicians at their schools.

Summit Health provided the $21,000 grant for the program to the Chamber Foundation, Cook said. Results would only be known to staff members at Cumberland Valley Mental Health Center, who would notify students and parents of positive tests.

In a 1998 survey, 43 percent of 12th-graders reported using alcohol at least once a month, 18 percent said they used marijuana and 5 percent used stimulants. Cook said a 10 percent participation in TRUCE would be considered a success in its first year.

Before hearing the pitch for TRUCE, students heard from motivational speaker Matt Bellace of Collingwood, N.J. He demonstrated his belief in a positive attitude and thinking creatively by walking barefoot on broken glass.

"In life there's a big difference between being good and being happy," he said. Bellace said being good leads to "a happiness that doesn't wear off Sunday morning."

"We think our target audience is the people who have not made a decision" about drugs, Schlichter said.

Several students said discounts from businesses that cater to teenagers will convince some to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

"For some kids, that's enough," said sophomore Rachel Tusten of Chambersburg.

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