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SHORT TAKES

FORGET MISS COGENIALITY
Zero-tolerance policies apply to everyone -- even beauty queens. That's what Miss Lubbock Teen USA Roni Lowe learned recently. The 16-year-old student at Frenship High School in Wolforth, Texas, gave up her crown in the wake of accusations that she threatened a group of cheerleaders at her school. A local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, reported that Roni argued with a bunch of cheerleaders, then told them they would all "disappear from the face of the Earth, and everyone will know who did it." When school officials found out, they sent Roni to spend three months at an alternative school for troubled students. After that, Roni's parents pulled her out of school. (Roni couldn't be reached to comment.) The officials said they were following their zero-tolerance policy on verbal threats, which they adopted after the highly publicized incidents of school violence across the country in recent years.

CHANGE YOUR WAYS
Seem like your money just slips through your fingers? You don't have to be at the mall or arcade to part with a stash of cash. The latest issue of Zillions, the kids consumer 'zine, says it surveyed kids and found that the main thing they spend their money on is snacks. According to the Zillions survey, kids spend about $5 a week on drinks, candy, chips, cookies and other junk foods -- and some of that money is spent in school. Want a little incentive to save? Zillions calculates that if, instead of dropping 50 cents a day into a school vending machine, you save that cash, you can have a decent chunk of change by your high school graduation: A ninth-grader could have $360, an eighth-grader $450, a seventh-grader $540 and a sixth-grader $630!

DRILL FOR DANGER
Emily B., 13, of Elmhurst, Ill., recently wrote us a note: "Remember the good old days? With fire drills? Well, how about this drill: Lock the doors, pull down the shades, turn off the lights, sit beside the wall where the front door is so no one can see you, turn the desks on their sides and set the top part of the desk facing the door. Sit quietly ... until the gunman is out. In case you didn't know, this is a secure-in-place drill. In simpler terms, it's what to do if a shooter enters a building. It's a shame we have to do these drills. Are school shootings happening so frequently that that's a necessary drill to practice?" Emily says such drills have been practiced at her school, Bryan Middle School, and at the elementary school where her mom teaches kindergarten. (Emily says the younger kids aren't told what the drill is for, just what the drill is called.) Does your school have such drills? What do you think of them? Let us know!

-- Knight Ridder

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