Discipline problems plague spring trips

Although various school trips over spring break were plagued by similar issues with drug and alcohol use, the extent and nature of the disciplinary action has varied.

Five seniors caught drinking on the Jazz Band and Studio Jazz Band trip to Italy were given a one-day suspension while on the trip and had their senior privileges revoked, students said, while Chamber Singers were told by Choir Director Rodger Guerrero that next year’s Chamber Singers trip would be cancelled.

Six jazz musicians were sitting at a table with a couple bottles of wine, one of the students said, when the chaperones and the tour guide walked into the same restaurant.

“They walked in and saw the bottles of wine and the glasses on the table,” the student said.

The student said he was not drinking, but everyone else had about “a glass or two.” He said the other five students, all seniors, were given the equivalent of a one-day suspension by performing arts teacher Shawn Costantino, so they did not perform one night.

Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas called, the student said, and revoked the five students’ senior privileges for the foreseeable future.

The student said most, if not all, of his companions are 18, which is the legal drinking age in Italy.

“It’s part of the Italian culture,” he said.

The student said he thought the punishments were “pretty mild” and deserved. “We all signed the contract,” he said. “It would technically be drinking alcohol on campus.”

The student handbook says it’s forbidden to use drugs or alcohol on “school-sponsored trips and occasions when one is representing the school, even during vacation,” and that breaking this rule may result in expulsion.

“You are representing your school and your community,” Barzdukas said. “When you’re traveling on a school-sponsored trip it’s like being at school.”

One of the seniors punished for drinking also acknowledged they received fair punishment.

“I was just upset that there was a rule against 18-year-olds drinking in Italy because it’s legal there,” the senior said. “Also, we were completely responsible.”

Costantino and Guerrero both declined to comment, but Guerrero told the Chronicle no decision had yet been made regarding the cancellation of the trip, which Barzdukas said is up to Guerrero. However, a Chamber Singers member said Guerrero told Chamber Singers members twice that next year’s trip would be cancelled.

The member said Guerrero told the singers kids approached him with rumors about drug and alcohol use on the trip to New York City, but that he hadn’t been given evidence or details.

The member thinks the differing punishments suggest the administration is concerned only with punishing misbehavior, not with addressing the underlying culture.

“People make mistakes,” Barzdukas said. “I think [students] know what constitutes good and proper behavior and what constitutes crossing the line. I don’t think that we need any kind of special seminar program or online education program, I think we all just need to remind ourselves to do the right thing.”

It’s confusing and unfair for the punishments for the same offense to vary, the member said.

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