MINSTER – Although a new student drug testing policy for students was approved at the Monday night meeting of the Minster Board of Education, two Board members expressed reservations about what they perceived as the increasing amount of student monitoring.
The new drug-testing policy requires all grade 9 to 12 students involved in extracurricular activities to consent to random drug testing. If written consent from the parents is not provided to the school, the student may not participate in the activities. The extracurricular activities include athletes, athletic mangers, trainers, statisticians, band members (marching, concert and/or symphonic band) and participants in board-approved clubs as listed in the Minster High School handbook. Also, at the discretion of the parents, students not in this population could be opted into the drug testing program.
Before the vote to approve the policy, Board member Nick Rentz asked about why the students involved in extra-curricular activities were targeted in this policy. “How about the teachers, the coaches?” he asked. He said he would like to see a more comprehensive drug-free policy. Eventually he did vote to approved the measure.
Board member Ted Oldiges, who voted against the drug testing policy, was most outspoken against the new rules, questioning whether the expanding monitoring of students was really needed.
“In the recent past, we have approved breathalyzer tests to get into prom, random drug testing, cameras in the hallways, and vape detectors in the restrooms,” said Oldiges. He said he was told that Cardinal Pride students were required by teachers to open their student email accounts so they could read them. “That is an invasion of privacy.”
He also questioned whether the monitoring was detrimental to the students’ health. He questioned whether the school needs to enforce compliance or accountability, saying enforcing compliance does not create leaders.
In regards to the reading of student’s emails, high school principal Austin Kaylor said the request to open email accounts was not to read emails but to encourage the emptying of excessive emails that strain the student storage limits.
Board member Sandy Schulze supported passing the new drug testing measure and others saying it helped protect the students from outside influences such as social media. She said she monitored what her children were seeing on the internet, but not all parents did so.
In other news, Board President Katrina Nixon updated the group about the search for a new school superintendent. The current superintendent, Brenda Boeke, is retiring at the end of the school year.
Nixon said they had received eight applicants for the superintendent position and they had settled on four finalists. They included Karen Rose, ESC curriculum director, John Holtzapple, Anna Elementary School principal, Will Hampton, Marietta City Schools superintendent, and Josh Meyer, 7 to 12 principal at Covington Exempted Village Schools.
Nixon said they will continue with interviews for the next three weeks, narrowing down the list.
Kaylor announced the class valedictorian and salutatorian.
He said this year’s senior class valedictorian is Ava Grieshop, the daughter of Dave and Karla Grieshop. The principal said she plans to attend the University of Cincinnati with a physical therapy major.
This year’s senior class salutatorian is Redmond Bernhold, the son of Bruce and Audra Bernhold. Kaylor said he plans to attend the University of Notre Dame, majoring in neuroscience with a pre-med focus.
Also, a number of other students were congratulated for their accomplishments by Kaylor.
At the 81st Annual FFA Banquet, he said students earning their state degrees were juniors Owen Barhorst, Conner Gehret, and Lucas Thiebeau. Also receiving recognition for earning the award last year were seniors Noah Pleiman, Jay Prenger, Tyler Prenger, Layne Voisard, Guy Weigandt, Austin Wellman, and Alex Westerheide. Tess Voisard was awarded the Honorary FFA Degree, and Todd Weigandt was also recognized for his past designation as the 2020 recipient. Last year the pandemic restrictions canceled the 2021 banquet
Senior Layne Voisard and her teacher Marianne Bruns were honored recently at the county’s annual Franklin B. Walter banquet on Wednesday, April 6.
FFA students Cora Heitkamp, Alex Westerheide, Conner Gehret, and Jordan Glass were recognized for taking eighth in the state in the Grain Merchandising competition.
Finally, the principal said all senior students were projected to successfully meet the requirements for graduation.
The next Minster Board of Education meeting is Monday, May 16, at 7 a.m.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.