VERMILION, Ohio -- Before they can play football or march with the band, students in the Vermilion school district will have to prove they are drug-free.
Monday night, the school board voted unanimously, 5-to-0 to approve drug testing for some students.
District leaders say the plan is not punitive, but meant to deter students from using drugs.
"I think we've come to a point in our community in this time that we need to do something drastic and we need to implement mandatory drug testing for as many kids as we legally can do, we've gotta save kids' lives," said Vermilion school board vice president Dale Dawson.
Vermilion school board members approved the plan to require any high school student who wants to participate in sports, extra-curricular activities or obtain a parking pass, to submit to regular drug testing.
The testing would apply to students from 8th to 12th grade.
"I think it's a pretty good idea to make sure kids are safe and they don't take drugs," said incoming 7th grader Lauren Volzer.
"I think it's a great idea...I coached here for many years and I teach in another school district outside of this district, we've had it for probably 15 years...drug policy...and it's just a great out for the students," said Tim Volzer.
"It helps the kids, gives them an out...if somebody approaches them, they can say I'm not doing any drugs, I don't want to get caught, I want to play sports," said Lisa Volzer.
The superintendent and school board members say Vermilion is no different than any other community, but admit they need to address the problem.
"We're looking to basically put a suit of armor on students when they go out to an event or when they go out where there possibly might be illegal substances, the kids can say sorry I can't do that, I'm going to possibly be tested and therefore it gives them a reason to say no," said superintendent Philip Pempin.
The testing will be done by a certified medical lab several times a year.
Students who test positive will not be suspended or expelled, but they must agree to go to counseling and sit out of their extra-curricular activity on a first offense.
"When we lost a student to a drug overdose, I was devastated," said retired Vermilion teacher Terry Smith.
The school district will pay for the cost of the testing.
"What is a life worth? I can't put a dollar amount, I think if it cost a million dollars to protect our students and to prevent another death, it would be well worth it," Smith added.
The drug testing policy goes into effect this school year.
The superintendent also discussed the possibility of offering drug testing on a voluntary basis for the student body in general.