WESTMINSTER — Even though the three young teens know they'll never use drugs, theysay the daylong Youth Drug and Alcohol Summit wasn't wasted.
"You're here so you can tell your friends," said Laura Morse, 13, an eighth-grader at Mount Airy Middle School.
"Or set an example for other people not to take drugs," said her classmate Amy Marion, also 13.
The second annual event brought 300 county middle- and high school students to Martin's Westminster, where most of Wednesday's program revolved around Fool Proof, an improvisational theater troupe made up of Carroll teens. Fool Proof is an independent venture of director Roberta Rooney, a drama teacher at North Carroll High.
By acting out six skits depicting teen personal problems that included substance abuse, the troupe provided fodder forthe students to discuss later in small groups.
Several teens saidthose attending were what most would call "good kids," but that eventhey needed to hear that drugs are dangerous and learn ways to deal with peer pressure.
Keith Krumrine, 17, said middle-class teens can be at even more risk than lower-income teens.
"They can afford it. Their parents spoil them. That makes me sick," said Keith, a junior at Westminster High School.
Amy said peer pressure always will be a problem.
"Kids will do what their friends do. . . . If they have a lot of peer pressure, they're going to (use drugs)," she said. "But if you know your friends are into (drugs), maybe you change yourfriends."
Keith and friend Chris DeGasperi, 15, a freshman at Westminster, said the summit wasn't wasted on those who attended, but that leaders should have gotten more of a cross-section of students.
Chris said most of the teens who attended are in the same social circles, and the message will be spread only as far as their friends.
"We feel that all adolescents are at risk," said Joanne Hays, substance abuse prevention coordinator for Carroll County schools. She saidprincipals from each school selected about 30 students, using different criteria to achieve the student cross section asked for by the Prevention Planning Committee.
The committee is made up of students, educators, businesses, police, public health and private addiction-agency workers.
Amy Hill, 17, a junior at Liberty High School, chaired the summit this year and last.
"This is a good cross section," she said of the students chosen. "This is for them to learn and forthem to teach."
During Fool Proof skits, characters included a 17-year-old named "Randy," whose 10-year-old sister takes drugs he has been selling to his classmates, and 21-year-old "Burt," who sells drugs to teens.
When it came time for the audience to question the characters as if they were real people, the teens had heavy criticism and challenging questions for Randy and Burt.
"How does it feel to know you sold the drugs that hurt your sister?" one teen from the audience asked Randy.
Another asked Burt whether he didn't feel responsible for the suicide of a teen who was using drugs Burt sold. Another asked Burt whether he sold drugs to teens because it was easier than selling to adults.
"All that happened was the exchange of moneyfor a product," Burt told the audience in his defense.
Randy, however, displayed remorse at his sister's drug use and said it might spur him to stop selling dealing and seek help for his own addictions.
After the question-and-answer session, Rooney said the judgmental and challenging tone of the teen audience was not unusual.
"This is an ideal group," she said. "Kids who would come to this summit knowdrugs are bad."
But even when the group performs in larger schoolgroups or in addiction centers where the audience is hardened to drug use, the reactions are similar, Rooney said.
"Kids, regardless of what they do in their own lives, are very good at recognizing bad characters," she said.
But does the lesson transfer to real life?
"You don't know," Rooney said. "We have had a few good experiences."
When performing recently at an addiction center, one patient told them the skits made him realize he was wrong always to blame his sister for his addictions. He said he was going to call her later to tell her he knows it was his own fault.
"That really makes it all worthwhile," Rooney said.