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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Did You Attend Bow Lake Elementary in 2001?

Posted by on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Help us out, readers! The Stranger is trying to reach the former students of Bow Lake Elementary school, located in SeaTac, Washington, who were in Mr. Dodge's sixth grade class in 2001. If you don't remember the specifics, you may remember this part: being drafted into an anti-pot letter-writing campaign. (If you were one of those kids, e-mail us).

Sixth-grade teacher Jason Dodge asked his class to write letters to the editor to The Stranger, taking us to task for running a comic by Ellen Forney titled "How to Smoke Pot and Stay Out of Jail." We still have the stack of handwritten letters.

For example: "My teacher has brought in a newspaper a couple weeks ago," wrote a youngster named Ken. "I don't think it is appropriate to help people who smoke pot to get away with it." And the students, under Jason Dodge's letter-writing command, really stuck by their talking points. As another student put it: "Are you trying to make people get addicted to smoking so that they can get addicted and later on 'die'!"

Those kids would have been about 11 years old at the time, but now are in their early 20s—and pot is legal. We're wondering where Mr. Dodge's students are today, whether they still feel the same way about pot, and how they voted on Initiative 502.

If you are one of these former students, or know how to reach them, please send us an email with the headline "POT LETTERS."


Comments (22) RSS

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Wait, seriously? 1
this is really petty.
Posted by Wait, seriously? on February 13, 2013 at 4:23 PM · Report this
derek_erdman 2
Sorry to break it to you, but all of these people are probably dead from pot.
Posted by derek_erdman on February 13, 2013 at 4:23 PM · Report this
Posted by derek_erdman on February 13, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 4
I think it's awesome, and I also want to hear from Mr. Dodge.

P.s. I still have a copy of that comic too!
Posted by Dr_Awesome on February 13, 2013 at 4:26 PM · Report this
fletc3her 5
I used to live near Bow Lake, but I went to Valley View... in the seventies. Not that that is in any way useful, but nice to hear scandal stalked my old stomping ground years after I moved away. Or something.
Posted by fletc3her on February 13, 2013 at 4:32 PM · Report this
seatackled 6
Probably the first thing to do is see if Mr. Dodge has been accused of any inappropriate behavior that may or would have gotten him removed from the classroom.
Posted by seatackled on February 13, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
seatackled 7
I think I found the original letters from kids.…

And the letters to the editor that followed.…
Posted by seatackled on February 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
sperifera 8
That's going to make a great story if you can find some of the kids. It's amazing how perceptions can change in 12 years..
Posted by sperifera on February 13, 2013 at 5:42 PM · Report this
Knat 9
@2: Thank you for that. I was laughing for what felt like a solid five minutes.
Posted by Knat on February 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 10
I'm w/ Dr Awesome. I don't care so much about the dupes, who were just kids at the time, as about the righteous asshat who feels its okay to manipulate those kids to further his own agenda.

Mr. Dodge, do you continue to disseminate brainless propaganda to your kids?
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 13, 2013 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 11
So, basically, they still can't smoke or drive while stoned, but they can vote or die overseas to protect China's resources, right?

Wait until you're 21, kids. You can get gay married or straight married, but you're still serfs.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 13, 2013 at 6:40 PM · Report this
I was not a member of this particular school, but my school had students participate in similar projects - anti-drug plegdes, D.A.R.E. seminars and so on, and I have always been on both sides of the issue.

I have always been wary of drug use, primarily because of the summer when I went away, and came back to find that all my best friends had taken that time to become deeply entrenched in drug use and "stoner culture". As many young people do on a variety of topics, my former friends used these substances to deliniate the "us" of their clique, vs. the "them" that were non-users. Some of the greatest torments of my life were enacted by the hands of people who, 4 months prior, were the faces of my world.

From this I learned that, in the wrong hands and to undeveloped minds, drugs can be beyond ruinous. Star pupils became monsters. Confident speakers could not read aloud without breaking down into nervous laughter. Games of imagination were nothing compared to the pleasures to be had in a musty basement.

However, despite having never indulged myself, I voted "Yes" on I-502, because I understood, even in my youth, that it is not the substances alone, but the culture of secrecy, isolation, and counterlegal status that divided those who indulged so sharply from their peers - a decision to be a "bad" kid vs. a "good" one.

Adults - fully formed individuals - should be allowed to do as they please. Today, some of the people closest to my heart are substance users, and some are substance abusers - but all have walked through darkness that many attribute to their abuses to get here. As a believer in freedom, I support the right of adults to choose - even as I hold memorial for the friends I once knew, changed and lost to me forever by substances for which they were unprepared, for the sake of being cool.
Posted by TrickyC on February 13, 2013 at 7:17 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 13
All of the kids in that class were legal voting age last fall.

I wanna know how they voted, if they voted. Like many people, I grew up in a decidedly anti-pot household. My parents had a bumper sticker that said "peanut butter is better than pot", which would later make me wonder if the peanuts used were infected with ergot. They also used to refer to "acid rock" as music that melted your brain, and seemed to be modelling their lives in Archie Bunker. Did all of this stern morality keep me on the straight and narrow? Nope. After they kicked me out for being gay, I ran off and joined a group of hippies following the Grateful Dead for a tour. Hey, say what you want about their aversion to hygiene and the band having jumped the shark by that point, but they were one group that couldn't give a rats ass less who I went for. That, and they had good pot.

Not every kid has had such luck. Its possible that these kids are now decked out in a white shirt and tie and a little name plate that ironically describes them as "elders". Its also possible that they've taken a long look at the misinformation fed to them by the authorities in their lives such as Mr Dodge, and decided to put that youthful rebellious streak to good use.

In any event, I wonder what impact if any this class exercise has on their votes. If none at all, my faith in teenage angst will reach a new high.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on February 13, 2013 at 7:33 PM · Report this
seatackled 14

Well, if you google the righteous asshat who feels its okay to manipulate those kids to further his own agenda, you'll find that he now teaches 2nd graders in Olympia, so maybe we'll see something from the new kids if Ellen Forney would kindly produce a primer for how to lube up effectively for ye olde time sodomee.
Posted by seatackled on February 13, 2013 at 8:20 PM · Report this
DARE was a very informative intro to drugs. When people started offering narcotics to me a few years later, I had an idea of what the risks and benefits were.
Posted by wxPDX on February 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Posted by vinegrrl on February 13, 2013 at 8:35 PM · Report this
@1 It's not petty. It's an interesting study into how people's ideas change over time, using a specific incident as a starting point. Calm down.
Posted by J from Oregon on February 13, 2013 at 8:42 PM · Report this
@12, it sounds like that had less to do with drugs and more to do with the fact that teenagers are awful, awful people. You could probably have removed the drugs entirely from the situation and all of the things you said happened to them could have happened anyway as they grew from adolescents to teenagers.
Posted by JenV on February 13, 2013 at 9:02 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 19
@12: On the plus side, mainstreaming will destroy the menace that is "stoner culture", forever.

And thank goodness for that, terrible jam bands, people who get you high and try to play dumb games one you, TIE DYE SHIRTS will all be relegated to the frat houses where that shit will never die.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 13, 2013 at 9:27 PM · Report this
Arguably it's a little early for a story like this, since we really don't know what the effects of legalization are quite yet.

But if this is maybe the first installment of a multi-year story...
Posted by dak7e on February 13, 2013 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Wait a minute. Let's back up a little.
Why were 6th graders reading The Stranger in the first place? Did that teacher really bring the paper, with the "escort" ads in the back, into the classroom?
Posted by tacomagirl on February 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 22
@15 That was what I took away from it too. I actually studied the different types of drugs and their effects, and relative addiction levels. Ours was info based too, so we actually got a lot of useful information. I was also a fan if those Dance Safe drug postcards. I used to hang a few of those as decoration in my college apt.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on February 14, 2013 at 6:37 AM · Report this

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