NKHS students rewarded for staying off drugs.
June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:49 PM
"POULSBO - As North Kitsap High School's Student Resource Officer (SRO), Nick Hoke knows that drug, alcohol, and tobacco use are a part of school - every school. To help deal with the problem, Hoke has started a program to help students stay drug-free. I think one of the big problems isn't that kids are doing drugs, Hoke said, but that other kids are condoning it. That drives me crazy. So Hoke began NKCOPS this year. NKCOPS stands for North Kitsap Coalition of Proud Students, and the program already boasts almost 90 members in its first year of existence. In it, each student signs an application that includes his or her signature, plus the signatures of six other people. The application swears that the student is drug-free, and they will remain so. The first line reads, From this day forward, I, _____, vow to keep my body and mind drug free. Below are the signatures. Students, Hoke said, cannot join on their word alone. They must gather other signatures of those who can vouch for the students' seriousness about staying drug-free. The signatures include another NKCOPS member, a parent, an adult, a teacher, and two friends. That way, there's quite a bit of accountability, Hoke said. He tried to make the club both strict in its demands that students remain free of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, but also not a burden on students' time, Hoke said. There are lot of kids who qualify, but don't sign up, Hoke said. They won't sign up because it's a club, or they won't sign up because it's associated with the police, or they won't sign up because they say they're too busy. I tell them, hey, we don't have any meetings, we don't have anything for you to do but stay drug-free. It's real easy. One student, senior Elizabeth Lee, joined after she heard about the program through LINK (Leaders in North Kitsap). I thought, 'That sounds interesting. It sounds like a good idea,' Lee said. Lee said, It lets people see kids aren't ashamed to be drug-free. A lot of my friends are drug-free anyway, so we're all excited to find a way to take a stand. Examples of that stand hang outside Hoke's office in the high school's cafeteria, where more than 80 pictures hang from a display case. The pictures are of NKCOPS members. Every time a student joins, Hoke takes their picture. That's not all. Each student is also presented with a certificate (signed by the school board superintendent and law enforcement personnel) and a small pin shaped like a badge. Hoke also hands out prizes to NKCOPS, rewarding them for staying drug-free. But he knows the program's growth won't be fueled by him but by students. The kids can sell the program better than I can, Hoke said. That doesn't stop him from setting goals. Hoke would like to more than double NKCOPS' membership this year, to 200. That's about 15 percent of the school, Hoke figures - a pretty good number. More than kids who are already drug-free, Hoke would like to get more kids who once used drugs and alcohol but have now turned away from it. I just want to develop a better attitude in school, where kids develop a zero-tolerance attitude (towards drugs and alcohol), Hoke said. He added: That's not easy - in North Kitsap, or any other school. "