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Early risers

The early bird catches the worm.

That was the seemingly innocent philosophy that the band director at Douglas High School in Minden, Nev., adopted when preparing his band for a competition.

Residents living next to the practice field, however, were not pleased when William Zabelsky and his marching band were out practicing one Saturday last month at 6:30 in the morning.

In fact, they called the Douglas County sheriff's department to put a stop to the "noise." Mr. Zabelsky said the police arrived after 10 minutes of the band's performance, but allowed the musicians to finish the last five minutes of their routine.

But just stopping the racket wasn't enough for some residents. An off-duty police officer who lives in the neighborhood demanded that the director be cited for disturbing the peace.

Had he been convicted, Mr. Zabelsky would have faced a $165 fine, which the 7,320-student Douglas County district, which is about 15 miles south of Carson City, said it would pay. But an agreement to drop the charges was reached last week between the district and the sheriff's department. It provides that the band director will not hold practice before 7 a.m.

Mr. Zabelsky said he was glad it was settled, but wished he was consulted about the agreement.

Just say no

Seventh graders at John Deere Middle School in Moline, Ill., just said no to a chance to compete for $2,500 scholarships because the sponsor sells hemp-based products.

Alterna, a Los Angeles-based hair-products company, offered the students a chance to compete for scholarship money if they wrote an essay on how hemp can change the world.

The contest was designed to promote the non-narcotic uses of hemp, from which marijuana and hashish are derived. But the students told school officials they did not want to participate.

Earlier this year, when many of the same students were 6th graders, they took part in a letter-writing campaign to demand that a billboard be removed for Alterna's hemp-oil shampoo.

The billboard, featuring a hemp leaf that looks identical to a marijuana leaf, sat in plain sight of the 600-student school. As a result of their campaigning, the company moved the sign a few blocks away.

"The students said no because they felt that it would invalidate what they had done last spring," Principal Bill Burrus said.

--Karen L. Abercrombie & Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 18, Issue 11, Page 3

Published in Print: November 11, 1998, as Take Note

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