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Wellesley High principal expands on sports, drugs

Andrew Keough, Wellesley HighWe recently posted an item previewing Wellesley High principal Andrew Keough’s School Committee Meeting presentation on his recent trip to Scandanavia with a group of educators interested in learning more about how schools in countries there do so well. We cited a comment attributed to Dr. Keough, taken from the minutes of a recent Wellesley Parent Teacher Student Organization meeting, regarding concerns of an “unhealthy” emphasis on athletics at the school, and we followed up with the principal on that point after several people commented about it on our site.

Keough assured us that he’s a huge backer of the school’s athletics program, something he hopes residents and staff will trust based on his support of the program since arriving here in 2007. His concerns are focused on the issue of some people looking at athletics as a ticket to college and in the process, forgetting about what sports used to be about: “being a team, having fun, camaraderie, competition…all of that healthy stuff.” Keough cited one example of being approached by parents literally begging to let their kid be on a team after getting cut.

Keough says the school is focused on making sure there’s a balance between sports and other school activities, including of course academics, and making sure students aren’t stretched too thin when it comes to athletic endeavors.

Separately, we recently posted an item about straight talk last week from Wellesley High administrators to students during an assembly about a spike in kids being caught with pot at the school so far this school year. Keough says the rise in students being caught with pot was “alarming,” amounting to 2 or 3 times as many instances as typically happens in an entire school year. “We felt as an administration we didn’t want to just leave it at that and sweep it under the carpet,” Keough says. “We wanted students to know we were disappointed, but more than anything, concerned.”

Keough says that sometimes emotionally unstable students at the school have been found to use marijuana as a way to self medicate, making them even more unstable.

After last week’s assembly on the topic, students were sent back to their advisory groups (home rooms) to discuss the issue and have a chance to provide the school with feedback. Students recommended finding more people who can relate to them in communicating the dangers of drug addiction, and said they felt parents need to play the largest role in talking to them about drugs.

As for why the increase in students getting caught with pot at school, Keough says the “perception in the teen population that society is moving toward legalization and that smoking pot isn’t a big deal” are likely factors.

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