School mandates backpacks to fight scoliosis

spine.JPGStarting this September, East will be implementing a new policy requiring all students to carry backpacks. Due to the increased usage of tote bags and messenger bags, there has been a dramatic increase in scoliosis cases among students, which has aroused concern among parents and faculty members who advocate the policy.

According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, scoliosis, the condition of sideways curvature of the spine, affects two to three percent of the population, or roughly 6 million people in the United States.

“The primary onset age for scoliosis is from 10 to 15,” says Dr. Bert Vertabrake of the American Chiropractic Association, “so high school and middle school students are extremely vulnerable.”

The age factor, combined with the ever-increasing weight of book bags and the increased usage of shoulder bags, makes high-schoolers highly susceptible to spinal injury. It’s not uncommon for a student to carry 25 percent of his or her own body weight in books. 

“When I was in high school we didn’t even have bookbags,” says substitute teacher Edith Plank. “We just carried our books by hand. Nowadays I see these kids with these huge growths sprouting out of their backs like a humpback whale or something – Just what do they keep in there, anyway?”

Well, Edith, we’re glad you asked.

Cindy Hayworth (’09) spilled the contents of her book bag to show us.

“I carry my cell phone, my iPod, my lunch, my gym-clothes and, like, sneakers… and my make-up, a deck of cards… a frisbee usually, and sometimes a container of Pringles for, you know, like, a snack… hand sanitizer, tissues, a miniature hairbrush, Altoids, a picture of my dog, Rufus… my entertainment book and… all my school stuff,” says Hayworth. “Just the essentials, basically.”

“Well, right now I’ve got Alan Brinkley in there, so it’s about twelve pounds heavier than normal,” says Daniel Peters (‘10). “Yep, he’s one pretty hefty dude. One day I was sitting behind this really tall kid in an assembly, so I whipped out my Brinkley and kind of used him as a seat cushion so I could see.”

Furthermore, the new regulations stipulate that backpacks be equipped with padded waist belts which are to be fastened at all times. This rule has elicited mixed reactions from students. 

“For a long time kids made fun of me because I use the waistband on my backpack,” says Billy Fink (‘08). “But now I guess everybody’s going to be using them, so it’s like I started a trend. My dad always told me I was a trend-setter.”

Theodore “Thrasher” Steinbrook (‘10) plans on adding some bling to his new book bag.

“I’m thinkin’ about gettin’ me one of them funky belt buckles that’s got the lights on ‘em,” said Steinbrook. “It says your name on it all big an’ fancy, an’ puttin’ it right on my waistband for all the world to see.”

Arina Malcabott (‘09) is among those students less enthralled about the new backpack policy.

“My daddy bought me this one-of-a-kind Prada tote for my birthday,” said Malcabott, “and now I can’t even wear it to school, because of the [stupid] regulations.”

Luckily for Arina, students may purchase backpacks that meet the new requirements through the school for 30 dollars apiece. They come in either poppy-seed black or pumpkin orange tartan and are embellished with the school crest. For an additional charge of five dollars, students may have inspirational quotes embroidered on the back pocket. Choices include: “Knowledge is power,” “The early bird gets the worm” and “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Checks are to be made payable to Cherry Hill High School East, and order forms will be made available in Communications beginning July 30. Backpacks will also be for sale in the school store beginning in September.