Recently, students who suffer from peanut allergies have been circulating a petition around campus to create awareness and urge the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education to make Samo a peanut free campus.
“I am personally allergic to all nuts,” senior Zach Canning said. “I go into anaphylactic shock and can die within an hour. Since last week, I have been going from class to class getting people to sign a petition. I want to put a face on the peanut ban so that you know when you bring peanuts to school, you could be killing me.”
Many other Samo students are allergic to peanuts including senior Johanna Turner.
“Though banning peanut products in school may be an inconvenience for some people, the question to consider is whether or not it is too much of a sacrifice to make for the safety of the growing population of students who could die as a result of coming in contact with them,” Turner said.
In response to the severity of some students’ allergic reactions Principal Laurel Fretz announced via email that Samo would be a “peanut free school” on Nov. 15. However, she sent another email the following day taking back the announcement.
“I recently had a conversation with several people about this, and afterward I thought it seemed like the right thing to do.’” Fretz said. “Later, I realized this was like creating a new policy. Principals do not have the right to create policy—only the Board of Education can do that. So I rescinded my announcement of being a peanut-free school the next day. I also suggested that even though we are not officially a peanut-free school, that we be thoughtful about the food we bring and the food we eat in classrooms.”
Instead of a peanut ban many classrooms across Samo are now being declared “peanut free zones” or “food free zones” for the safety of those students who have severe food related allergies. Some teachers are also taking extra precautions to make events on campus peanut free.
“I have students with peanut allergies, but only if they consume them,” Samohi Solar Alliance adviser Steve Rupprecht said. “One thing I’ve had to do is for Bike-it Day, organizations had donated food to give out as treats. One of the treats that were donated had peanuts in it, so what we had to do was go through them by hand and pull out all the ones with peanuts in them to make sure that they weren’t distributed,” Rupprecht said.
Some students are skeptical that a peanut ban would be achievable.
“I think that having a peanut ban for people who are allergic to peanuts, it would put them in a safer environment, where they wouldn’t have to worry,” senior Ariel Pourmorady said. “I think the biggest problem is how [the school] will enforce it, because it’s impossible to check 3,000 students, their backpacks and what they have for lunch and snacks. Sometimes students don’t even know if they have peanuts in their food. [The peanut ban] is a good idea, but I don’t know if there would be any practical way to keep it in check.”
Ultimately, the students’ goal in creating the petition is not to see immediate change in school policy regarding peanuts.
“More than anything, I’m trying to raise awareness on the seriousness of the situation,” Turner said. “I don’t expect change to come before I graduate, but at least I can get people thinking about the issue so that future students won’t have to go through what we have been through,” Turner said.