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Honor Society Student Who Tippled Exiled From Campus

November 08, 1998|From Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A high school senior and four-year honor society student was banished from campus for the rest of the year for sipping sangria she was given on her first day of an internship.

Jennifer Coonce, 17, was suspended for 10 days from East Lake High School and can no longer be a member of the National Honor Society.

She will be allowed only to take classes at home over a speakerphone through a program called teleschool, which does not offer the advanced placement and honors courses she was taking.

The Pinellas County School District has a zero-tolerance alcohol policy, and even a sip brings stiff punishment.

"I've never even had a detention my whole life," said Jennifer, who has a 3.5 grade-point average. "It's so frustrating."

Nancy Zambito, director of school operations, said school policy applies regardless of how little alcohol is consumed.

"Guns, alcohol and drugs: Those are the only things we're really rigid about," Zambito said. "And I don't apologize for that because those three things kill kids."

The employees at Interiors by Terry D, a Clearwater decorating firm, were about to toast a woman who was leaving when Jennifer's boss poured her a glass of sangria. She took two sips.

Jennifer was suspended on Oct. 19 after her parents unwittingly reported it. They wanted school administrators to remind the company of its responsibilities when supervising minors.

The punishment means that Jennifer cannot take part in extracurricular activities.

"I can't go to homecoming. I can't go to football games. It's depressing," she said.

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