Kids - stop stabbing, burning & doping! Don't you have homework to do?
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
High school students being inducted into the National Honor Society usually don't rate extensive newspaper coverage. And, rarely are the names of high-achieving students published on the front page.
Other students' names are also not published - but for different reasons. While the names of juvenile lawbreakers are not made available to the public, nevertheless, their exploits always rate front page coverage.
Before getting into that, however, kudos must first go out to Bandera High School students who were inducted into the Mary Welch Chapter of the NHS on Monday, April 29. They were selected on the basis of scholarship, service, leadership and character.
New members include seniors, Jordan Carvajal, Sierra Rodriguez and Chris R. Smith; juniors, Josie Burnes, Ethan Greven, Shae Hopf, Macie Malone, Audrey Perna and Chris Toenes; and sophomores, Nick Andreas, Kyle Bauml, Sara Butler, Elizabeth Collett, John Derry, Courtney Flach, Mary Hevenor, Corey Jennings, Wes Joseph, Brady Keane, Dana Lohrke, Averie Mansfield, Kate Martin, Shay McMullan, Alyssa Mordoff, Ty Neff, Noah Nelson, Katelyn Randolph, Javier Rodriguez, Meghan Salley, Leeanne Shackelford, Grace Smith, Cameron Thrasher, Kyle Wilson and Dava Zavorka.
Of course, other students of Bandera Independent School District have received different kinds of coverage - the kind - of which no parent could be proud.
A recent rash of disturbances began the evening of Sunday, April 21, when Bandera Beach Club, 1106 Cherry Street, went up in flames. In short order, two 16-year-old high school sophomores were charged in that incident - one male with arson and his purported cohort in crime with felony criminal mischief. "They've both been turned over to juvenile probation," said Bandera Marshal James "Charlie" Hicks.
The juveniles apparently confessed to starting the fire, which destroyed most of the venue that rented tubes and kayaks. According to reports, buildings were destroyed and buses and kayaks sustained heavy damage.
The arson incident was quickly followed by a purported case of bullying that culminated in a Tuesday, April 23, stabbing of a 15 year old off school property.
According to Bandera Chief Deputy Scott MacNaughton, the aggravated assault case has resulted in six juveniles facing the following:
• Two misdemeanor disorderly conduct-fighting in public charges
• Two charges of felony unlawful carrying weapons on school grounds or school transportation
• One misdemeanor assault charge
• Two misdemeanor charges of unlawful carrying weapons
• Two felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges.
"Our youth should be able to walk to their school, the park and church events without fear of being victimized - and this remains a priority for our agency," MacNaughton said. "Anyone found to be engaging in 'bullying' that constitutes a criminal offence, will face criminal charges - period."
Concurring with his chief deputy, Hicks urged all parents to talk with their children, making them aware of the recent situation. "Parents should also instruct their children to report any criminal activity - or rumors of criminal activity - to school officials or my office. This will prevent any similar incidents from occurring in the future." Hicks can be reached at 830-796-3456.
Additionally, on Tuesday, April 30, a Bandera High School student was arrested for possessing marijuana in a drug-free zone.
On that date, the marshal's office had received tips that two separate altercations were apparently set to take place after school. The reported rumbles would supposedly involve both middle and high school students.
In anticipation, city law enforcement officers had staked out areas behind a service station and the Bandera County Public Library. They requested assistance from the Bandera County Sheriff's Office.
According to Mac-Naughton, Deputy Steve Anthony contacted him after observing a red Ford 150 pickup truck, carrying what appeared to be four juveniles, suspiciously circling a specific area several times. MacNaughton stopped the vehicle in the 600 block of Main Street after the driver used a cell phone in a school zone.
"After obtaining the driver's verbal consent, I searched the vehicle and found marijuana in the center console," MacNaughton said. "After questioning him further, he admitted there was more marijuana under the center console." In that area, MacNaughton found six pre-packaged plastic bags of marijuana - presumably ready to be sold - as well as a pipe.
After his arrest, the 17 year old was charged with possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone - a Class A misdemeanor. "The driver took full responsibility for having the drugs and the three passengers of the pickup were released," MacNaughton said.
Meanwhile, back to the other end of the student spectrum, BHS Principal Gary Bitzkie commented on the 34 students recently inducted into the NHS and who, presumably, have never faced arson, aggravated assault or drug possession charges.
"These are the hardest working group of students I've seen. I am very proud of each and every one of them," Bitzkie said.