High School’s Drug Testing Aims to Promote Wellness

KANSAS CITY, MO. When students return for the fall semester at Rockhurst High School, they will be subject to random and mandatory school drug testing– not as a way to police the student body, Principal Greg Harkness says, but rather to promote holistic health.

“It isn’t about testing our students to catch them, it’s about providing a resource for our students,” said Harkness, principal at Rockhurst, a Jesuit, all-male high school here.

In 2012, parents of Rockhurst students raised concerns about the pervasiveness of drugs and alcohol in current culture. Conversations ensued with the administration, faculty, parents, and students about what kind of role the school should play in maintaining health and wellness on and off-campus, specifically when it comes to drug and alcohol use.

The new drug-testing policy isn’t the school’s first foray into concern for student health. Over the course of the past two years, Rockhurst has instated concussion testing and a full-time athletic trainer, extended the guidance counseling staff, and hired a psychologist- all to enhance wellness in students.

Rockhurst is even “moving our foodservice into offering healthier options and giving students more time to eat,” said Chris Bosco, English teacher and vice-principal of student affairs.

“[Drug testing] is going to be a major piece of this wellness conversation because of the topic but also because it is part of the larger conversation about healthy formation of young men,” Bosco continued.

In 2011, Rockhurst surveyed its students about drug and alcohol use. Results found that students perceived drug and alcohol use as significantly higher than it actually is, Harkness said. “We realized that was an unfair perception of who our students are,” Harkness told NCR.