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lighting up gets expensive in school

PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Students at Pemberton Township high school who sneak cigarettes in the bathroom will soon be risking a hefty fine if they're caught. Starting March 18, school officials can issue municipal complaints for students who break the state law that bans smoking in school buildings. A first-time offender must appear before a judge and pay a $100 fine. A second violation carries a $200 fine.

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The mandate could be good preparation for anyone interested in attending Syracuse University. The New York school plans to ban smoking in all dorms beginning in the fall of 2000.

School district's worry dolls, yoga, card games get taken to court

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Both the First Amendment and the First Commandment are getting an airing in a dispute that's bringing the curriculum of New York's Bedford Central school district before a judge. The argument began in 1995, when a group of parents objected to a school club that centered on a strategy card game called Magic: The Gathering, which they argued had dark and lurid images. When the school allowed the activity, parents went to court and added other activities to the complaint: making models of Aztec gods as part of the study of Mexico, creating "worry dolls" to ward off nightmares, and stress-reduction exercises with a yogi. They demanded injunctions against some, and the right to opt out of others. The American Catholic Lawyers Association has taken the plaintiffs' cause; the liberal People for the American Way supports the schools.

Classrooms wired, teachers unprepared

WASHINGTON - Schools nationwide have more than 6 million computers, but most teachers still lack training to use them in a way that truly helps children learn, a study finds. Nearly 80 percent of schools have Internet access, but one-third of teacher colleges don't have enough computer equipment to properly train teachers. Twenty-five states mandate computer classes for teachers seeking a license, but only North Carolina and Vermont require proof of proficiency. The report suggests teacher training in technology should be mandatory by 2002.

Teachers Interested in writing for us?

We are always on the look out for 600-word columns written by kindergarten teachers on up to college professors. To submit a "Class Act" column, e-mail Amelia Newcomb at: or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

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