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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Problem solving best accomplished as a team


To The Editor:

In response to Gary Hird's "Ongoing problem at Harwood" letter to the editor last week, our initial response was: What is an eighth-grader doing with $160 at school? This seems like a rather large sum of money for a student to be carrying around. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned through these unfortunate circumstances by the student body en masse about having a large sum of money at school. With regard to the iPod nano, Harwood officials make it clear at the beginning of the academic year that students' expensive electronic gadgetry is to be brought to Harwood at the student's own risk.

The HUHS daily bulletin, which we receive via email, lists several iPods missing in the lost and found on a regular basis. Our son had his personal belongings stolen last fall from a gym locker, including his iPod. We do believe that it is Harwood's responsibility to provide students with a safe, tamper-free locker with which to secure their valuables and IDs during gym. Harwood officials were incredibly helpful to our family in dealing with the circumstances surrounding the theft of our son's belongings. We were not ignored. After much constructive dialogue with school officials, it is our hope that this problem is being addressed.

Additionally, Mr. Hird states: "I believe that if I send my child to their school, not only are they responsible for their health and welfare, they should also be somewhat responsible for their personal belongings." We consider HUHS, not "their" school, but rather as members of the Harwood community, "our" school. If we, as a community, are to resolve the difficulties occurring at HUHS, we must work together rather than point fingers. Acknowleding that a problem does exist is a beginning; problem solving is best accomplished as a team effort.

Drugs are mentioned as an ongoing problem at Harwood and Mr. Hird's letter indicates that: "To ignore this problem would only help to continue and exasperate the situation." Please know that HUHS does not ignore the drug problem. The school employs a Student Assistance Professional (SAP), Evelyn Zoecklein, who is an experienced and dedicated Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. The SAP is available to all students and their families for support and referral to appropriate treatment resources, in addition to facilitating prevention programming within the school environment.

Her services are confidential; we are fortunate to have such a committed professional to meet the needs of those students who may require her help. It is important to remember, however, that the most primary and essential substance abuse prevention begins at home; as parents it is our responsibility to have open dialogue with our children about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

Oftentimes, students come to school with established alcohol and/or drug problems; Harwood officials attempt to assist the student within the school setting. This is a far cry from ignoring the problem.

Bob and Valerie Welter



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