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Gradebook

Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Tiny Pasco Christian school cancels graduation after drinking incident

Elfers Christian School in western Pasco County had planned to celebrate the graduation of its four seniors on Thursday evening.

It abruptly canceled the event on Wednesday, though, to punish all four seniors, who admitted to drinking alcohol on a school-sponsored Bahamas cruise that returned home on Tuesday.

"We have a strict policy against drinking," principal Bart Foster told the Gradebook. "Even in a public school they're not allowed to drink alcohol at a school function. ... There had to be consequences for what they did."

Mike Vaporis, the father of one of the students, said he understood the need to make a point. But "kids will be kids," he said, and "those kids worked hard all year." And, he continued, the parents paid close to $4,000 a year for their children to attend the private school.

Canceling the commencement via letter just moments after celebrating the seniors at a baccalaureate service seemed a bit much, Vaporis said.

"It's sad," he said, noting that some of the kids had family traveling from out-of-state for the now-canceled event.

The students will be considered graduates. They can either pick up their diplomas or get them in the mail, Foster said. 

But it just didn't seem right to reward the teens for telling their chaperones they were headed to an upper deck for pizza only to go drinking, even if they later admitted it. 

"It was a really hard decision about them not walking, but that's what we decided to do," Foster said. "We just felt it was really wrong what they did."

That's the story. You be the judge. Overreaction? Or proper punishment?

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 4:31pm]

    

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