Does Ames High get high?

Does Ames High get high?

Kub Stevens, Features editor

Since its inception in the 1930’s, the motto “Ames Hi Aims High” has been both a rallying cry and a description, encouraging current students to be all they can be and recognizing the accomplishments of students past. Over the years, the motto has been grossly bastardized, so that now a far less flattering version, “Ames High Gets High,” is widely recognized. This version is a reference to the belief that many Ames High students regularly use drugs, specifically marijuana, for recreational purposes and begs the question, does Ames High truly get high?


Although most, if not all, Ames High students can agree that marijuana is used by certain members of the student body, not everyone is in agreement regarding how many students regularly smoke. When we asked students to guess how many of their peers regularly smoke, answers ranged from twelve students to over 40% of all Ames High students. In fact, according to statistics from the Iowa Youth Survey taken by Ames high school and middle school students in 2012, 29% of 11th grade males and 25% of 11th grade females admitted to having smoked before. Although the class that took this survey has since graduated, this statistic gives us a rough estimate of the current amount of students who smoke marijuana and leads us to another question: is marijuana use a problem at Ames High?


Although marijuana is illegal in Iowa, it is much less frowned upon than it was in the past, largely due to recent legislation making it legal in certain states, such as Colorado. Principal Spence Evans commented on this, stating that “When a state legalizes it, it sends mixed messages.” He also said that he’s curious to see the statistics from next year’s Iowa Youth Survey, as the effects of looser legislation pertaining to marijuana may begin to truly be felt.


When we asked whether or not marijuana use is a problem at Ames High, many students said that occasionally smoking marijuana is not a problem. Some went on to say that it does not pose any more of a risk to academic performance than other activities that take a student’s time.


One anonymous Ames High student said that “I think that it detracts academically as much as something like video games would detract. Beyond a certain point you start to have some effect on frontal lobe development, but you know what I’m saying. I wouldn’t say it’s a problem because they’re ‘screwing up their entire lives,’ it’s a problem because they’re spending time on something other than what they should be doing.”


All this leads to yet another question: why do Ames High students smoke marijuana? The answer is no doubt a complex one. A crucial part of it is the fact that high school is a period of experimentation and discovery, as teenagers challenge taboos and social norms in search of things that are meaningful and fulfilling to them. Another piece of the puzzle is found when marijuana is viewed not just as a means to “get high,” but as a medicine.


For one anonymous student, marijuana usage began at the age of 13. The student now smokes on a regular basis. Although it began as a purely recreational pursuit, smoking morphed into a coping mechanism for various ailments, both physical and mental. The student says that the values behind the motto “Ames Hi Aims High” contribute to their use of marijuana as a release.

“There’s so much of a pressure to be really amazing, because a lot of students here are just phenomenal at whatever they do. So, it can be really stressful to try and keep up, and to take your mind off if it for a little bit, it helps, I think.”