Education: Oddly Enough

Hellfire Teacher: When the priest of a small Colombian town spat fire and brimstone from the pulpit one Sunday, he said he was just doing his job of saving parishioners' souls from a high-school teacher with "satanic beliefs". But the teacher, Ruben Giraldo, a self-proclaimed "free- thinker" who explores alternative religions, said the Rev Juan Carlos Jaramillo's impassioned readings from Deuteronomy led to death threats against him. Townsfolk began to avoid him and students started calling him "Satan's professor". Fed up, Giraldo filed a civil rights lawsuit last year against Jaramillo, and the Constitutional Court recently ruled in his favour. An unrepentant Jaramillo said he had to warn parishioners because Giraldo's son gave a classmate a spell to keep away harm. "You have to understand that El Santuario is a very superstitious place," said Jaramillo, who has since moved away. "People see witches and demons in everything. You have to fight to promote the faith."

Going to Pot: When it comes to drug use, teachers and students will never agree, it seems. According to a new survey by the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse in the US, 71 per cent of high school students think more than half of their fellow students have tried marijuana, compared to only 26 per cent of teachers. Only 13 per cent of high school principals think the drug problem is getting worse, compared to 51 per cent of students and 41 per cent of teachers. Still, 49 per cent of teachers and principals believe a teenager can be a weekend weed-smoker and still get good grades.

Forbidden Fruit: Is a half-eaten apple a deadly weapon? An appeals court got to the core of that question with the case of Gavin T, a student whose tossed apple knocked a teacher unconscious. The 1st District Court of Appeal said the assault by fruit wasn't a criminal act. Gavin was eating lunch outside when he decided to throw a half-eaten apple at a wall to see it splatter. By accident, the apple flew through a gap in a door and hit a teacher. The teacher was knocked unconscious. Gavin was charged with felony assault. Although a lower court found that he did not intend to hit the teacher, the teenager was found guilty anyway. The appeals court overruled his punishment.

Animal Hospital: Student nurses have been accused of putting lives at risk after a spate of fire hoaxes at a Greater Manchester hospital. Just one week after a blaze destroyed four operating theatres at Wythenshawe Hospital, nurses at Trafford General have been blamed for a series of hoaxes; letting off alarms which are linked directly to fire stations. Fire chiefs intend to get tough on offenders. Only last month, fire-fighter John Ashton suffered serious injuries when his fire engine crashed while answering a hoax call.

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