South Carroll High seniors make time to organize drug symposium

Event today to feature speakers, demonstrations

May 01, 2002|By Justin Paprocki | Justin Paprocki,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

At a time when most seniors look to lighten their load, three South Carroll High School students asked for more.

Angela Howes, Adam Altman and Katie Krouse took charge of organizing the school's annual Drug and Alcohol Symposium, spending afternoons and class periods for the past three months helping arrange speakers, student and teacher schedules, and activities for the event, which begins at 8 a.m. today.

"This is the time of the year when a lot get `senioritis,' but here we have students working day and night," said Robin Cook, a South Carroll teacher who supervised the students.

The daylong event will feature speakers and events to illustrate the effects of drugs and alcohol on students and others. Parents of students who have died from drug use will speak, as will state and local officials. Bobby Petrocelli, a motivational speaker from New York whose wife was killed when a drunken driver crashed into his home, will be the keynote speaker.

In addition, local police will use drug-sniffing dogs to simulate a search of a car, and students can be strapped into a "crash simulator" to get an idea of what it is like to be in a car accident. Presentations will be given about alternative activities to drugs and alcohol.

For Howes, 18, taking on the project was not so much a chore as it was a necessity. She said she grew up in an alcoholic household and was headed on a similar path until high school.

"High school has been great because I turned it around," she said.

Howes will share her experience during the symposium to show how students affect not just themselves but those around them when they abuse drugs and alcohol.

"You need to be thinking about how it affects people around you," she said. "It affects hundreds of people, especially if you are in high school."

Administrators originally had planned a half-day symposium because student interest was low, said Principal George Phillips. But then Howes stepped in, and Phillips thought students might be able to connect with the project if other students organized it.

"I've been very impressed with their dedication and their decisions about programs students might like," he said.

Taking charge of the event was beneficial to students, Phillips said.

"My firm belief is that if you don't give students an opportunity to lead, they won't become good leaders," he said.

Altman and Krouse helped Howes organize the symposium. The trio got help from students in Cook's Psychology II class.

Altman, 17, is helping with graduation and preparing to attend Ridgewater College in Virginia. But he said he didn't mind the additional time spent organizing the symposium because the project is worthwhile.

"I'm bogged down," Altman said. "But it's what I like to do."

He plans to major in education and political science in college and hopes to organize a similar event when he becomes a teacher.

"It's benefited me and it should benefit others," he said.

The lack of activities in Carroll County hasn't helped students find alternatives to getting high or drunk at a party, Howes said.

"We don't have many bowling alleys. We don't have many roller skating rinks. ... So, we don't have many alternatives to keep [students] away from drugs and alcohol," she said. "Everyone needs to know that it does affect us, kids in our school, not just kids in" other counties.

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