CANBY - Getting an anti-drug use message out there was one of the many valuable lessons that eighth-graders learned while participating in a drug safety program recently at Canby High School.
"Knowledge is power," said Brian Skogen, licensed school social worker at CHS. "As they get older, kids should learn the right stuff, the facts. And, our data has been going down, so it seems like it's working."
In collaboration with Skogen, students in Carol Gorder's health class created public service announcements, researched a drug safety book - "Smart Choices for Life" - that was funded by the Canby Rotary Club and prepared presentations, which were shared with classmates, staff and the public Thursday in the CHS media center.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Culminating a drug safety program at Canby High School, eighth-graders gave presentations on a variety of drugs Thursday in the school media center. While classmate Jared Lokken, right, held the colorful poster board, Jared Philipp gave a presentation on the dangerous effects of using mushrooms.
"All the students really put a lot of work into this," Skogen said. "I was impressed with how well they did."
Gorder said that kids need to know why they aren't supposed to do drugs. And, sometimes the best teachers are their own peers.
"Kids have perspective and insight that you don't even think about," Gorder said. "That's why we have to give kids an avenue to talk."
Gorder partnered the eighth-graders up, then allowed them to select their own topic.
"We picked Ecstasy to do our project on," said Rachel Jessen, who worked with Sawyer Kraus. "We tried to pick the main drugs, the most important ones that people get addicted to."
During the PowerPoint presentation, Kraus said that the drug usually cost $20 a pill, but cost typically depends on the dealer and the quality.
"It's a drug that is sold at parties," he said.
Jessen explained that Ecstasy was psychologically addictive, like Game Boy or PlayStation.
"Drugs are bad," Jessen said. "I don't think Canby has a big problem with it, but some other schools and people out there might. It's good for everyone to hear about it."
While some students did radio announcements for their public service announcements, Ashley Grengs and Tanner Kack chose to write an editorial to get their message out about alcohol. Natalie Morris' and Alex Ufkin's method was even more unique. They advocated for staying away from cocaine by putting specially-designed labels on water bottles.
"We discussed it and it just seemed like the perfect thing to do," Morris said. Eventually, the duo would like to see the water bottles presented at basketball games and other activities.
"Just so people can get their eyes on it," Morris said. "We wanted it to be really eye-catching. Our goal was to just make sure that people know the facts."
Jessen said that students used the drug safety books from the Rotary to get their information.
"It had all of the information about drugs, basically, in there," she said. "I thought it was a good project for everyone. Your group is learning about the drug, and then you're teaching it to everyone else."
The presentations were streamed online, in case parents were unable to attend, Skogen said. Parents could also watch the DVD that came along with the donated book.
"It has a family component to it, which I like," Skogen said. "It gives some tips to parents on how to have conversations with your kids about drugs. It's very cool."
Austin Polejewski and Nolan Fink informed their classmates about tobacco, which contains a highly addictive substance called nicotine, they said. Abbi Denekamp and Justin Cleveland explained that long-term marijuana use can result in lung damage.
"People use it because it's cheap, easy to get and it's not as dangerous or addictive," Denekamp said. "But it's still bad."
Cleveland pointed out that marijuana is called a gateway drug, as users often start with marijuana and then move onto more harmful drugs.
In his presentation, Jared Philipp revealed that there were 160 different species of mushrooms containing the drug that causes hallucinations.
"It can kill you if you take the wrong one," Philipp said.
Students used a number of different ways and a wide range of technology to convey their messages.
Jared Lokken and Jericho Borstad created a poster board that said "Got OD? Cocaine does." Caitey Drietz, rounded up classmates to put together a video showcasing the dangers of Rohypnol, also called "roofies" or the "date rape drug."
In addition to Curtis Stene's posterboard, Bailey Hintz and Jordan Kack presented a video on heroin.
"Heroin can ruin your life," Kack said.
A heroin overdose can kill, Hintz said, like it did with Janis Joplin, or hospitalize, like Amy Winehouse was. The group's strongest message was stated simply: "Think twice. Don't try it."
"We try to get those short little phrases, things that if repeated, you'll recall them," Gorder said. "We talked about how you can get a message."