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Pa. urinalysis program has takers

February 13, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - About 300 junior and senior high school students in the Chambersburg Area School District have signed up for the TRUCE program, which offers discounts and other incentives to students who take voluntary drug tests, according to the coordinator for the program.

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Teens Resisting Unhealthy Choices Everyday, or TRUCE, proved more popular among students at J. Frank Faust Junior High School than at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, according to Pat Massa, the coordinator for the program offered by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber Foundation.

Massa said 178 students at the junior high school, about 14 percent of the 1,300 students, signed up for TRUCE by the Friday deadline. She said approximately 120 students at the high school, about 7 percent of the more than 1,700 students, signed up.

"Anything close to 10 percent is deemed a success," Massa said. The program is based on a similar one in the Little Rock, Ark., school system.

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Students who agree to participate in the program, which requires parental consent, will be subject to random urinalysis.

Students will be issued tamper-proof photo ID cards that entitle them to discounts from more than 30 area merchants, Massa said.

Students will be tested for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and PCP. Students who test positive, or refuse to take a drug test, will have their TRUCE privileges revoked, according to Massa. If that happens, technicians at Summit Health's Cumberland Valley Mental Health Center will notify the students and their parents.

With just a few months left in the school year, area businessman Charles Schlichter said last week that all participants will take an initial test between March and the end of the school year.

When the program was kicked off with school assemblies earlier this month, Schlichter told students positive drug tests would not be reported to school officials or police.

Sponsored by the Chamber Foundation, TRUCE is being funded by a $21,000 grant from Summit Health.

Students will be issued a computer identification number to assure confidentiality and be called in at random for testing by Summit Health technicians at their schools.

Test results will be interpreted by staff members at Cumberland Valley Mental Health Center. A positive test could result in a meeting with the family, an assessment and other steps, Schlichter said last week.

"It's a way of life in the real world," Schlichter said in a meeting for parents last week.

A dozen area restaurants are participating in TRUCE, offering discounts, free beverages and other incentives. Four jewelry stores, three health-and-beauty businesses, three gift shops, two bowling alleys and various other businesses are offering discounts, as well.

Eleven businesses offering discounts also offer preferential hiring for TRUCE students. One Chambersburg Mall department store offers preferential hiring but no discounts.

Students asked about the program after its introduction offered mixed views. Some said they liked the idea but others said they felt they would be trading their privacy for discounts.

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