Detention strives to discourage further offenses

Detention strives to discourage further offenses

Although the laughter of many students pouring onto Greenough Street at 2:45 p.m. reverberates throughout the halls each day, a handful stay behind in the building. Sitting quietly in room 238 on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, these students remain in a 45-minute detention.

According to Associate Dean Scott Butchart, one consequence of any misbehavior, frequent tardiness or cutting class is detention. He said the after school penalty serves as a tool for the administration to deter students from acting in a way that would warrant stricter punishments like suspension.

“I think the deans do think it is useful. Is it equally useful for all kids? Maybe not. But it’s our first line of lowest level consequence for kids we are trying to urge back onto the straight and narrow,” Butchart said.

The deans make a distinction between school detention and detentions held by particular teachers, according to Butchart.

“Teachers can give their own detentions and have students come to them after school,” Butchart said. “The school detention is deemed to seem a little more anonymous, but it may be an even bigger whack because it is anonymous and just school sponsored instead of the teacher-student relationship.”

According to Butchart, not attending an assigned detention most often doubles a student’s detention time. He said he sometimes sees a change in student behavior after they have been in a detention.

“A lot of kids have a detention and don’t do what they did again; they settle down,” said Butchart. “Other kids, if they are sort of repeat offenders, get a different kind of consequence another time. Detention is the first level of consequence. The deans try to find that particular lever with the kid to effect change.”

The school staff rotates alphabetically through the job of monitoring the school-sponsored detention after school. On Nov. 15, Nov. 28, Nov. 29 and Dec. 3, 2012, no teacher arrived to monitor detention within 10 minutes of its commencement.

Sophomore Karina Da Rosa has been assigned to one detention for tardiness. She said that even after showing up late, the teacher in charge of monitoring the detention had not yet arrived.

“The teacher was late,” she said. “It kind of contradicted her role, because I was late, and then she was late.”

Copy Center Manager Paul Priestly has monitored detention in the past, and although he was not late to detention duty, he said he recognizes why staff may not be on time.

“Detention starts five minutes after class,” he said. “If a student comes to you for help or with questions, obviously that student takes priority.”

Nevertheless, Priestly said he sees potential in detention to effect change.

“I would like to think of it as an effective way to transform behavior from non-cooperative to cooperative,” Priestly said. “It can actually be a transformative experience. It makes the student realize that they are accountable for their personal behavior. It makes them cognizant of their behavior that has caused them to have to serve a detention, so they will not do it again.”

Da Rosa concurs. She said that the nature of detention discourages her from acting in a way that could result in her having to spend additional time there.

“Based upon my experience in detention, I definitely wouldn’t want to go back,” Da Rosa said. “There were a lot of students there. We had to be completely quiet and do all of our work. The teacher sat up front and was very angry at all of us the whole time.”

Senior Nicole Albertini said she feels detention has not been the main factor deterring her from continually mis-stepping in school. However, she said it played a part in keeping her from making the same mistakes.

“It’s not that bad,” she said. “Last year I skipped about 18 classes. It’s pretty fair that I’m here because by missing class, I was missing time to learn. I’ve learned not to skip class.”

Freshman Dominic Glennon is a newcomer to detention and said he doesn’t see himself completely changing his behavior because of the experience.

“I don’t think detention will keep me from making the same mistakes,” he said. “I’m probably going to end up in detention again for doing something stupid.”

Miriam El-Baz can be contacted at [email protected]