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Students should stand up for sobriety

By Julia Lytle
Published: December 2008

After events this fall, administrators at Newton South are taking the initiative in raising awareness about drinking and drugs, as well as the serious consequences that can follow. Rather than trying to emphasize the penalties involved when a student is caught using or in possession, administrators are trying to stress the fact that lives are lost every day as a result of the use of drugs and alcohol.

Last month, Principal Brian Salzer and drug and alcohol counselor Rich Catrambone were both present at the showing of the movie Smashed, shown one evening in the Newton South auditorium.

The movie was open to all South students, and parents were strongly encouraged to attend as well.  Possibly because of few notifications to students about the movie, scheduling conflicts, or because of a lack of interest, students were few in attendance.

The movie, with many graphic scenes, focused on several teenage kids and their stories involving drug and alcohol abuse, many of which ended in the hospital.  After the movie was finished, students were asked to sit in the front of the auditorium in order to begin a seminar discussion between students and parents.

This open discussion, where both students and parents were encouraged to talk as openly as possible, was a preview of what administrators are working to organize at South: a student-parent committee focusing on the problems within our school with drugs and alcohol.

Cutler housemaster Donna Gordon has become involved in this initiative, as she has been very crucial in organizing past school-related events surrounding the issue of drugs and alcohol. She began at Newton South as the enrichment coordinator, offering programs involving drug and alcohol prevention.

In addition to trying to organize weekend activities to draw teenagers away from the party scene, administrators at South are planning on continuing the spring tradition of inviting the mother of a girl killed in an alcohol-related accident to speak.

The program, called “Sean and Betsy, sponsored by the Peer Education class, features Mrs. Hughes, the mother of Betsy, who was killed in a drunk driving accident. Hughes discusses the most serious consequence of using drugs and alcohol and making bad decisions while under the influence: death. “There is not a dry eye in the auditorium, Gordon said.

In addition, Newton South, along with the Youth Commission, has sponsored educational services from a program called Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD).

The facilitator of the program is in recovery, giving students an up close look at the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.  “We are also planning to have some programs on transitioning to college, Gordon says.  Many kids don’t realize that habits picked up in high school get worse as they move onto the more independent and free environment discovered in college.

Students need to take the initiative to become aware of the consequences of their actions, as those consequences become much worse once the freedom of college presents itself. Newton South students take a stand on many issues in society, and now it is time for all students to focus their attention on the issue of drugs and alcohol.

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