Letter from Principal Jackson Regarding WinterFest

Dear ARHS Parents and Guardians,
This letter concerns the WinterFest dance that was held on Friday, January 26. As many of you know by now, around 8:30 pm[the dance began at 7 and was scheduled to end at 10 pm], we suspended the dance and the students in attendance were sent home.
I would like to explain to the community what led to this decision.
Around 8:30, one of the chaperones reported that there was a strong smell of marijuana emanating from around the dance floor. The smell was pronounced. 30 minutes after the cafeteria was cleared, the strong smell still lingered.
The strength of the odor indicates that marijuana was actually smoked during the dance in the cafeteria. This was central to the decision. This act – brazen, obvious to everyone – required a clear, immediate response. However, with over a 100 kids on the dance floor, individual accountability would be hard, if not impossible, to establish.
Given the tension between these considerations – a required response and an investigation hampered by the number of students – the decision to cancel is one I support. I am mindful of the limits of collective consequences. The actions of a few should not adversely effect the many. But in this instance, however regrettable, the call was the right one.
I have already met with the senior class leadership to debrief the experience. My interest here was two-fold: to enable them to share their perspectives regarding the decision and to help us problem-solve about how to increase the likelihood that future dances won’t resemble this one. They handled themselves well and had useful insights to share. I left the door open for another dance to be scheduled before winter break. I gave the students until next Friday to come to me with their proposal. Part of the proposal must include how they will communicate to the student body the importance of maintaining a drug-free dance.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you questions or concerns.
Thank you.
Mark Jackson
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