Patriot Perspective: Drug assembly improves on previous attempts


Zachary Miller

Peer Recovering Specialist Shawn speaks to the senior boys during the community drug assembly on Thursday, Oct, 27. Several speakers shared their stories of battling addiction with all grade levels throughout the school during the assembly.

Skeptical faces stare up at the presenter in the Chapel, uninterested in her story. This was not the first time the senior girls had heard the “don’t do drugs” speech. However, the atmosphere of the room began to change. As Sarah, a bright and energetic recovering drug addict, began to tell her story, students sat rapt in attention, fascinated by her story on the way drugs impacted her life.

After previous unsuccessful attempts to educate the student body on drug use, this assembly proved to be a step in the right direction in the administration’s attempt to prevent illicit student behavior.

On Oct. 27, the administration and the Guidance Department organized an assembly focused around drug use prevention. Recovering drug addicts shared their stories with the students, who were broken into small groups by their grade and gender. Each group heard two speakers who shared their personal stories.

The speakers managed to touch the audience with their sincere, honest, and forthright stories which had a sense of relatability and authenticity that last year’s assembly lacked.

The 2015 drug prevention assembly consisted of a member of the Harford County Department for Drug Control Policy reading outdated statistics and warnings off of a PowerPoint slide.

The seemingly inaccurate statistics included during the presentation wasted students’ time and left no positive impact.

This previous plan of action ultimately failed and left students disregarding the seriousness of the topic at hand. Students could not relate to a seemingly unrealistic statistic on a PowerPoint slide and could not see themselves as a potential number on a screen.

By the time the first presenter was finished last year and it was time for Michelle Gallion, who told the story of her brother’s battle with addiction and his ultimate death, students were frustrated and unwilling to listen to a potentially life-changing speech about the dangers of drug use.

This year, the administration made a wise choice by skipping the statistics PowerPoint. The exclusion of another lecture on the facts about drugs left students more open and interested when the most persuasive speakers got their chance to speak.

In addition, this recent drug assembly had a more dramatic impact on students because the speakers had directly experienced the pain and struggle of drug addiction themselves. Instead of offering a story of addiction from a second-hand perspective, like Gallion, they asked each student to avoid making the mistakes they did.

The opportunity for students to see the consequence of their choice to use drugs in high school made the speakers relevant to high school students. It was more effective than a man coming to lecture students about why drugs are bad.

While the efforts to make this most recent drug assembly possible are greatly appreciated by students, there is still room for improvement. Most students went into the assembly expecting to hear details about the drug testing policy and to have their remaining questions about it answered.

This did not happen, and the process of drug testing was not even mentioned during the hour that students met, an example of the lack of communication between the administration and student body.

The administration’s most recent assembly was certainly a step in the right direction. There is still a need for an assembly that directly explains the new drug testing policy, as was promised at the beginning of the year, but this most recent attempt to prevent student drug use was an admirable one.

In order for students to accept the lessons taught at assemblies like these, and by the school’s drug use prevention policy, it is crucial that students understand all aspects of the school’s drug use prevention program.