Kent Place's Smokey History

By today’s standards, the idea of smoking, especially by teenagers, has become a less accepted practice. There was once a time, however, when it had a place in social settings, including at Kent Place.

In the 1953-54 Kent Place Constitution, a handwritten entry from the Head of School in February, 1954, lists another Senior Privilege allowing smoking, whilst in uniform, outside of Summit limits. Kent Place was known as the independent, all-girls school where students “don’t gossip or smoke”. This limitation in location would have prevented girls from smoking in the same town as the school, where people could identify them as KPS students by their uniform.

Fast forward 16 years to March, 1970, when a Ballast article titled “Pot-Pourri” was published. This article was written against recreational drugs, especially the titular marijuana and nicotine. Bill and Butch (an ex addict), from contrasting communities, came to talk to Kent Place students about the dangers of addiction.

The next sighting of smoking in Ballast came in December of the following year, in the form of an anonymous student’s oped. While the student’s opinions on the matter are unclear, the student mentions how three other schools nearby endorse smoking with some restrictions. She also mentions the problems many schools are having while trying to prohibit smoking on the premises. However, according to the student, “Kent Place has none of these problems” because the school allowed for students to smoke in their uniforms off campus.

From 1954 to 1971, the smoking in school uniform outside of the school changed from being a school privilege to being something all students can take advantage of. The pressure for an on-campus smoking area was mounting. In the spring of 1972, the school formed a Smoking Committee. This committee (composed of both students and teachers like our present-day committees) endorsed the creation of an on-campus smoking area, while conversely warning students of the risks that are associated with smoking. They promoted education on smoking as well. The May, 1973 Ballast issue updated student’s on the committee's progress. The student body had voted on the creation of the sight, and while the majority was in favor, it did not pass. However, a new addition was added: a tie into the honor code. To be able to utilize the area, a student would need to be sixteen years of age, or have parental permission.

But because of the smoking area’s needed location away from the main buildings and the many students, it would be very hard to regulate who is going there, and if they would have permission to, so they created the honor code tie in and trust them to be girlbosses. Finally, it was approved. A trial period for a smoking area out by the tennis courts was put in place starting in May, 1974. To use it, a student would have to be at least sixteen and have parental permission. In a period of twenty years, the school had gone from only permitting seniors to smoke while off campus, to anyone at least 16 out by the tennis courts. Although during this time, major changes happened in favor of smoking on school grounds, those changes did not last, as we can see now.