Published: February 8, 2010
What two fourth-grade teachers at Westchase Elementary School apparently thought was a creative way to calm students about to take the FCAT made at least one caregiver fear the teachers were sending a different message – that taking drugs while under stress is OK.
Sandy Young walked into her grandson's fourth-grade classroom last Thursday and saw pill bottles on each students' desk. Her mind raced with questions and thoughts of disbelief.
Young said she immediately questioned Westchase Elementary fourth-grade teacher Beth Watson about the pill bottles, which were filled with pieces of small mint candy.
"She said it was nothing but some mints; it was just something special for the kids, for the FCAT to mellow them out," Young said.
Young said the bottle reads in part: "Watson's Whiz Kid Pharmacy. Take 1 tablet by mouth EVERY 5 MINUTES to cure FCAT jitters. Repeated use may cause craft to spontaneously ooze from pores. No refills. Ms. (Deborah) Falcon's authorization required."
The school received one complaint since pill bottles were distributed on Thursday, said Linda Cobbe, a school district spokeswoman. It's believed only two fourth-grade teachers at the school distributed the pill bottles.
The principal met with the students on Monday to confirm the pill bottles contained mints that were safe to eat. The students were asked to dump the mints in a separate container and the pill bottles were thrown away, Cobbe said.
She said the bottle idea was tied to the children's book the students recently read, "George's Marvelous Medicine," about a boy who concocts potions to try to change the disposition of his cranky grandmother.
The teachers were just trying to use a creative way to get across to the students not to be stressed with the FCAT writing examination that will be administered to fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders beginning today, Cobbe said.
"Elementary teachers do creative things to make learning fun," Cobbe said.
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