Taft makes strides at curbing smoking


Smoking in bathrooms at Taft High School is no longer a problem due in large part to a new culture that has been created at the school, according to Taft High School Local School Council student member Matthew Mach.

"Smoking has been dealt with," Mach said at the council’s Dec. 9 meeting. "It used to be a major issue."

For years Taft administrators have taken measures aimed at eliminating smoking in the school, such as increased security and installing smoke detectors in bathrooms. However, students and parents have said that smoking has continued in bathrooms.

Mach said after the meeting that new Taft principal Mark Grishaber has created a positive atmosphere that seems to be discouraging students from breaking the rules. He said that eliminating the uniform section of the dress code and dropping the requirement that students wear their identification cards were welcome changes.

Mach said that in the past students’ only interaction with security guards might be being reprimanded for an identification card violation. "There was this disconnect" between students and the school’s security and administrative staffs, he said.

Grishaber has said that he wants security staff members to interact with students in a positive manner as much as possible and that when necessary he will meet with students to explain the school’s expectations of their behavior. "The personality and integration he brought to the school is indispensable," Mach said.

However, problems of smoking outside the school still exist. Two residents told the LSC that students often smoke cigarettes across the street from their home, which is about a block from the school. The couple said that students also throw trash on their lawn.

"I will be out there tomorrow morning, and I will be there every morning until they’re gone," Grishaber told the residents.

Also at the meeting, the Taft High School Foundation honored junior Donny Paisley for his effort to raise funds for new athletics facilities, including an artificial playing field. Paisley said that while any improvement likely would occur after he graduates, it is important for students to want a better school for future students.

Foundation president Richard Winge said that last year Paisley asked the foundation how he could raise money for the school’s sports facilities. He said that Paisley organized a group of 10 students who have raised $800 by selling candy bars, with an additional $1,600 in matching funds from graduates of the school. The foundation hopes to begin a "March to Dollars" campaign in which every student will be asked to donate a dollar to the project.

Winge said that while the contributions will pay for a small portion of the project, Paisley’s efforts will demonstrate to those making decisions on grants that the Taft community supports improved sports facilities. Taft administrators plan to apply for a grant for a dome that would be used for gym classes and sports events.

It also was reported that 250 juniors have signed up for ACT preparation classes that the school will offer before and after school from Jan. 5 to Feb. 27, compared to 50 last year. The classes also will be offered to sophomores and seniors if there is space.

It also was announced that the average daily attendance rate at Taft this fall is 94 percent. The average last year at the school, which has an enrollment of 3,243, was 89.1 percent.

Grishaber reported that 50 teachers have signed up for a bowling event, one of several social activities which will be offered to teachers through out the school year.

The council approved Kathy Fern to fill a parent vacancy on the LS that was created when Sherry Riojas-Drury resigned. The next LSC meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10.