(Copyright 1999. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

May 31, 1999

Eastern may see clear bags

The Tattoo

The "Lancer Lockdown" at Bristol Eastern High
School is only the first step for officials looking to
improve student safety -- they are also seriously
considering an order that backpacks be see-through.

V. Everett Lyons, principal of Bristol Eastern, said
he has been keeping his ears and eyes open to
procedures other schools were using.

"There are several backpack-making companies who
might make them," said Lyons.

According to Lyons, the use of non-transparent
backpacks is a hole in current safety procedures.

"It's a potential weakness, you can't look inside each
and every one, and it's a convenient place to put things
you shouldn't have in school," said Lyons.

Assistant Principal Daniel Veins said he has already
explored the Internet to see if backpack companies
such as L.L. Bean and Eastpack sell clear or
translucent models.

Veins said, "I think you're going to see companies
turning them out soon."

Many students as Eastern are outraged at the
possibility of being forced to use see-through

"Itís like we're being punished," said sophomore Beth

Sophomore Lisa Caissie said, "It's an invasion of
privacy, you may have personal things that you don't
want other people to see."

Lyons claimed that privacy would still be respected
and he didn't think it was a "big issue." 

"You need to draw a line between being safe and
being intrusive," said Lyons. "As principal I don't want
to create an environment where students feel they're
going to prison every day. But I think we need to take
some prudent steps."

"I don't think it's right," said junior Chris Klett. "I've
seen the backpacks they've been using in Waterbury,
and they're just a plastic bag with a strap."

Han Hang, a sophomore, said, "I don't think that the
school should be able to do that to students, it won't
be effective because if somebody wants to bring a gun
into school, they'll find a way."

"Clear bookbags are unnecessary," said sophomore
Kelly Osborne. "There's a line between safety and
privacy. I think metal detectors are a safer idea
because kids can just put guns in their pockets."

Freshman Sara Lupa was unsure as to the quality of
the proposed backpacks.

"My L.L. Bean backpack is hardly holding up, a cheap
plastic backpack won't work."

Sophomore Melissa Garcia agreed, "I take a full-
course load, that means four books a day, and a little
plastic bag isn't going to do it."

However, Garcia said that she is against metal

"They make me feel so insecure, I mean, what is this?
A prison?"

"I would prefer metal detectors over clear backpacks,"
said Mark Cyr, a sophomore,  "but I think it might be
a necessary precaution to take."

Sophomore George Poulin said, "Backpacks are a
symbol of a person's individuality, giving each person
the same backpack would destroy that."

Child development instructor Creighton Paquette said
of the proposed clear backpacks, "I think it would be a
wise safety precaution."

"I think it's inconvenient and stupid," said junior
Melissa Couture. "I don't use my locker, I use my
backpack, and all my books are in it."

Couture said metal detectors would not be a resolution
because "they would give the impression that the
school isn't safe and students wouldn't want to go

Band director Richard Theriault said, "There's a fine
line between how much you can do to prevent
something and getting carried away. I guess it's okay
as long as it creates a safe environment."

Brandon Glasgow, a junior, said, "Iíve had my
bookbag for the last five years, and it cost me a lot of
money, why should I throw it away?"

He added, "I would rather wear a nasty plaid uniform
to school!"

Mary-Jean Faulkner, a science teacher, said, "I figure
it can't hurt, what difference does it make if they carry
their stuff in a net-type thing or canvas?"

Faulkner added, "The chances of it happening here are
slim to none, but safety must always  be a major
concern. If students had to go by metal detectors, they
couldn't sneak anything in anyway."

Tony Brandi, a student teacher, voiced his opinion.

"Itís a logical thing to do, but it infringes on privacy,"
said Brandi. "If I had a choice I would take the metal
detectors over clear backpacks any day. The heck with
image, the name of the game is safety."

Choral director Ken Ferris said of the clear backpacks,
"I think it is a wonderful idea. Some of these bags are
so huge you could carry drugs, guns, even propane
tanks -- anything other than books -- that may be
detrimental to students."

Guidance Counselor Larry Hochman said what needs
to be done at Eastern hasn't changed since the
Colorado tragedy.

"It's like if you almost have a car accident, you try to
be more careful and reassess the job you're doing."

Ferris predicted, "Everyone is going to fight the clear
bookbags until someone gets hurt. Isn't it better to be
safe than sorry?"

To read more about security issues, check out The Tattoo's special section on school safety by clicking here