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Cell phones ring to life at Placer High

Students disagree on whether devices give status
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The bell rings and a score of high-schoolers flow from their classes, texting or chatting on the phone to a friend. Cell phone technology is a huge part of high school life. Although Placer High School rules state students should not use cell phones in class, unless given permission by a teacher, nine students interviewed Friday said they have used their phones in class. Placer High Principal Peter Efstathiu said phones are taken away from students if they are caught using them in class. If a phone is taken away a second time, a student’s parent must pick it up at the office. Repeat offenses can lead to suspension. Students are allowed to use phones during passing periods and at lunch, Efstathiu said. Efstathiu said with some students, cell phones seem to be necessary parts of who they are. “To me, it’s almost like an addiction for some kids,” he said. “I think it’s sad and dangerous when you take a student’s phone and it’s almost like you have taken their heart out. That is not with all kids. There are plenty of kids who could care less.” Efstathiu said sometimes when he has had to meet with parents and give back a cell phone, the student will take the cell phone out of his or her parent’s hand as quickly as possible. He has also seen kids running into walls and each other while texting. “It just dumbfounds me,” he said. Junior Kendall Odom, 16, said she agrees that cell phones have addictive qualities. “I know a lot of people that can’t go without their phones, and if they don’t have their phones they definitely feel like something is missing,” Odom said. Odom said she got her first cell phone in eighth grade. “It was a lot easier for my parents to contact me, because I was playing sports and stuff (outside of school),” Odom said. So why are cell phones so addictive? “Honestly, I can’t tell you,” said sophomore Michael Valdez, 15. “I guess it’s just because phones have everything now.” Valdez said he wouldn’t feel completely lost if he left his phone at home. But it would make his day less pleasant, because he wouldn’t be able to get information to and from his friends the same way he can with a phone. “It would make things a little bit harder,” he said. Junior Lara Albrecht, 16, said she thinks a cell phone is somewhat like a status symbol. “It kind of shows you at least have enough money to own a phone,” Albrecht said. Junior Hannah Zimmerman, 16, said she could see a phone as something that could give you a higher status in high school, because it gives the appearance that the user has a lot of friends. “I think that people definitely know that as you are walking across campus and talking on the phone, that you are talking to your friends,” Zimmerman said. Junior Kristen Hiatt, 16, said she disagrees. “I don’t think it’s a status symbol,” Hiatt said. “I think it’s just important to stay in contact.” Senior Sawyer Carson, 18, who got his phone in seventh grade, said status is gained through other methods, not cell phones. “Mostly your status comes from before you get a cell phone – who you hang out with and stuff,” Carson said. Carson said he has used his cell phone in class when he is not supposed to, but it has also helped him in class when teachers requested someone look up information on the Internet. Efstathiu said because technology is growing more important every day, school officials don’t want to completely squelch its use. “We don’t want to discourage it, but we want it to be used properly,” Efstathiu said. Efstathiu said safety is also a concern, because students often have to cross the street at the high school to get to their classes. “I have seen plenty of kids not watching when they are walking and texting on their phones,” he said. Albrecht said she was almost hit while crossing the street once and has seen others run into each other. Seven junior females interviewed said they think it’s odd if any high-schoolers don’t have cell phones these days, although Albrecht said she knows people who don’t. “You just automatically ask people what their cell phone number is,” Odom said. “You don’t even think about it. It seems like people are getting phones younger and younger.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com