Protecting the children















Chris Sablon talks on his cell phone during the first lunch period at Prescott High School.

Courier/Les Stukenberg

Chris Sablon talks on his cell phone during the first lunch period at Prescott High School. Courier/Les Stukenberg

PRESCOTT – Although cell phones have many advantages in today’s fast-paced society, some Prescott High School teachers, unlike their students, believe these devices are disruptive, and they oppose their use on the campus.

Carolyn Peterson, a physical education teacher, said, “I feel it is very disruptive to students as well as to those around them. Phones are so advanced today that they can find ways to cheat with them … even if they are not talking on the phone. They can type on the phone. I don’t think they should be allowed at school at all.”

Four members of the Student Council said that they and all of their friends have cell phones for two reasons – peer pressure and a convenient way of communicating with their friends and parents.

Senior Dani Fenech said that her parents got her a cell phone during her freshman year.

“I have a picture phone with voice automated service and text messaging,” she said.

Although, per school policy, the students are not permitted to use cell phones during school hours while in school buildings and have to keep them out of sight, Fenech admitted that she sometimes sends a text message to her friends while on campus.

“Sometimes I’ll text my friends to see what plans we are making for that day” or to find out what time she has to be at work, she said. “I even text message my mom.”

She said her cell phone bill should be about $60 per month, but because she exceeds the number of text messages, overcharges bring it to around $90 per month.

“My sister and I share a plan and we pay for our bill,” Fenech said.

Senior Natalie Yslas, who was able to convince her parents to get her a cell phone two months ago when she told them that she would pay for it, said that most of the teachers are tolerant if cell phones go off in a classroom.

“Almost every single kid in this entire school has a cell phone,” she said. “I think most of the teachers don’t care as long as we don’t use them in their class, and if they see it, they will just ask you to put it away.”

She said that she is aware of the school policy regarding cell phones.

“We are allowed to use cell phones in either parking lot, and we are not allowed to have them out in class and a hallway,” Yslas said.

Michael Lamme, a senior who is also a member of the National Honor Society, said he has had his cell phone since seventh grade, adding that his parents gave him one to keep in touch when he is out with his friends. He admits that he screens his calls, including those from his parents.

“Usually I answer, and if not, I wait and call her (Mom) back,” he said, as other students in the room giggled in agreement.

Although most of the students set their phones on a silent or vibrate mode while in class, Lamme said, “They go off all the time.”

He said that most of the teachers are tolerant if a phone rings because they carry one as well.

Fenech added, “A lot of teachers have kids, and they know if there is an emergency, they would want to reach their kids.”

“I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without cell phones,” she said.

Yslas said that many students participate in extracurricular activities, and cell phones are a convenient way for parents to find out what their children’s schedules are and when they need to pick them up.

All of the students agreed that having a cell phone also offers them a sense of security, particularly when they are on the road.

Birdie Ferra, a family and consumer science teacher, said if the phone goes off in a classroom, it is usually a parent calling a student.

She said parents often claim that they want their children to have a cell phone to keep track of them. However, parents are unable to know for certain whether their children are in Phoenix or somewhere in Prescott when they call them.

Principal Totsy McCraley said if parents have an emergency, they should call the school during school hours to talk to their children.

“We can’t conduct a class if cell phones go off,” McCraley said.

This year, the school policy regarding cell phones has changed because cell phones, McCarley said, “have become more prominent on our campus. The other reason is that the technology has increased so much that you need to worry about kids in classes doing text messaging back and forth to each other.”

Mike Braverman, a substitute teacher, said that cell phones are not only disruptive in the classroom setting, but students do use them to cheat.

“Even if they are on silent, they’ve got to check and see who it was,” he said. “You can program in answers and talk to each other about answers. They are strictly illegal in any class that I have. They shouldn’t be allowed in high school.”

Lamme agreed that students use camera phones to take pictures of tests and forward them to their friends.

“Also, people can text message answers to other people during a test,” he said.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com