County middle and high school students plan to fight drug and alcohol use with Friday- and Saturday-night movies in the school gym, drug-free "spirit days" -- and a lobbying effort for more time to change classes.
More time to change classes?
Bryan Loeffler, a seventh-grader at Hammond Middle School and delegate to Friday's countywide youth drug summit, explained it this way:
"The kids who are troublemakers, if they don't get to class on time, they're going to get in trouble, and that will give them a more negative opinion of themselves. So maybe they'll skip (class)."
And students who are skipping class are more likely to hang out and drink or smoke, Loeffler said.
The summit brought together approximately 250 student delegates. They brainstormed plans for attacking druguse after listening to speeches by former professional football player Calvin Hill and county government, Health Department and school system staff members involved in abuse treatment and prevention.
Delegates are to develop a plan for a school activity, then return and implement it, said Helen M. Stemler, health programs supervisor for the county school system.
The brainstorming sessions were led by students who had been chosen to attend group leadership training meetings early in November.
Atholton High School's delegates thought theycould get students to attend movies in the school gym on Friday and Saturday nights at cheaper rates than the $20 a movie date now costs.The movies could be a fund-raiser for other activities, suggested group leader Maria Van der Vossen, a senior.
Senior Anne Klosky proposed open gyms after basketball games. "You see all of these people playing sports, and you might want to," she said.
Clarksville Middle School students decided they needed more drug education to prepare them for high school. Their answers: a substance abuse awareness day and monthly drug-free "spirit days" when students will proclaim themselves drug-free with buttons and stickers.
Group leader David Johnson, an eighth-grader, said his high school friends "see a lot of people smoking and drinking and they don't know what to do. They know it's kind of wrong, but they want to be part of the crowd."
Hammond Middle School's delegates took out a piece of paper and listed acrossthe top: "Problems That Our School Has." They were on problem No. 16, and the page was full when one of the teachers supervising the summit suggested to them it was time to develop a plan of action.
Their suggestions included more field trips for students not enrolled in gifted and talented programs and after-school social events to raise money for charity.
They also want teachers barred from smoking in schools, although the consensus was that they would not object to teachers smoking off school property. The issue of teacher smoking was raised recently by County Councilman Darrel E. Drown, R-2nd, who sponsored a resolution urging a ban in the schools. The State Board of Education has ruled that smoking lounges for teachers are a negotiable contract issue.
Teachers "are supposed to be good models for us," said group leader Alison Harriman, a seventh-grader. "We look up to them."
Added seventh-grader Karen Burton, "Teachers are a big part of how we act."
To make the changes they want, the Hammond studentsdecided to work with the school's town council, a school-wide assembly similar to a student government and with SHOP, Students Helping Other People, a student anti-drug group.