For more than a century, Woodward Academy has been dedicated to living out the promise of its motto of Excellence, Character, and Opportunity. We are committed to an environment that fosters these ideals in all people associated with Woodward. We are writing today to inform you of a new initiative which will help ensure the safety of the students entrusted in our care, as well as the development of their character and their access to future opportunities.
Because we are committed to being a drug-free institution, beginning next year—in fall 2013—Woodward will strengthen its designation as a drug-free institution by implementing a mandatory, random substance testing program of all Woodward Governing Board members, employees, and Upper School students in grades nine through twelve. (It is already standard practice at Woodward that all new employees must pass a drug test.)
Last year, a task force of Governing Board members (a number of whom are former or current parents of students) and senior administrators spent considerable time examining our approach to drug education and alcohol awareness, as well as the approaches taken by other educational institutions. We discovered that our educational efforts are equal to, and in some instances superior to, those at other institutions. Still, we are resolved next year to begin an intensive substance abuse education effort beginning in the seventh grade, which will be part of the formal science curriculum for all Middle School students. In addition, beginning next fall, we will require at least one parent or guardian of seventh grade students, and at least one parent or guardian of new Woodward students entering after seventh grade, to participate in an education effort aimed at arming parents with what they need to know to assist their children in dealing with the challenges of substance abuse.
Our research last year also revealed the pervasiveness nationally of drug and alcohol use and abuse by teenagers. Personal experiences shared by Woodward families, who never believed their children would experiment, but did, proved especially powerful to us. From our study, we also learned of the exponential impact on avoiding possible addiction by delaying drug and alcohol use.
At the conclusion of our in-depth review, the Governing Board became convinced that we must take a stand to help our students in the most beneficial way possible by adding to our comprehensive education efforts a mandatory, random substance testing program. The aim of this program is to prevent drug and alcohol use. We do not wish to punish; rather, we wish to educate and protect our students. We are convinced that the knowledge of possible testing by Woodward will encourage many students to say no when presented with an opportunity to use drugs or drink alcohol.
Under our new policy, students who test positive for drug or alcohol use will not be punished the first time, provided they admit prior to providing a urine sample or submitting to a breathalyzer test that drug or alcohol use might be detected. A second positive testing outcome will result in dismissal from the Academy.
Because we believe drug testing will be helpful to students, the Governing Board is committed to having the adults in the Woodward community lead the way. Consequently, beginning next fall, all Woodward employees and all Governing Board members will be subject to random drug testing. A first-time positive test result will not be met with the grace extended to students. Adults who test positive will be relieved of their responsibilities in our community.
This communication cannot convey all the details of Woodward’s approach to being a substance-free community. To assist you in learning more, you may review the policy statements and a Frequently Asked Questions document below this letter and on our website From President Gulley News page. In addition, Woodward leaders will conduct a series of meetings to share more information and to answer questions. You are invited to one of the following sessions, which will be held in the Gresham Chapel on Main Campus (with the exception of the morning session at Woodward North):
Monday, September 10, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 11, 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 12, 8:30 a.m. (at Woodward North only)
Wednesday, September 12, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 18, 8:30 a.m.
We hope you will agree that this new initiative is in the best interest of our students and that this effort demonstrates the same level of commitment to student success that attracted you and your family to Woodward Academy in the first place.
| Ben F. Johnson III '61
Chairman, Governing Board
| F. Stuart Gulley