Drinking convention captivates studentsFriday, June 08, 2012 By Maddie Brandts
Nearly 140 students from surrounding areas attended the First Annual Youth Conference to Prevent Underage Drinking occurred on April 17th at Greenfield Community College. Attendees listened to a guest speaker, ate lunch, and broke into groups where various activities took place. Students that represented the high school were juniors Amanda Lachat, Nicole Casolari, Maddie Brandts, Sean Rondeau, Kevin Garbacik, and Max Dowd, accompanied by teachers Tara Cole and Scott Hsu. Upon arrival, the group was greeted by Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, who led them into a room filled with students and teachers representing public and private schools from different areas. To kick off the conference, guest speaker Robert Hackenson spoke about his personal experiences and thoughts on underage drinking. “The speaker had good stories to tell and showed how one decision can ruin your life,” said Rondeau. Hackenson called on volunteers and used props to liven up his presentation. Lachat said Hackenson was funny, but still managed to get his point across. Rondeau and Dowd participated in a demonstration that showed the effects of one person’s actions on others. Rondeau said at first he was nervous to go up in front of the group, but then he got up there and decided it was "cool." Following Hackenson’s presentation, the high school’s group was sent to another room presented by Above the Influence Director Glen Franklin, where they discussed how the outside sources create stress for young adults. Franklin explained that these sources are what help the Above the Influence campaign compose commercials and advertisements to promote being above the influence. Participants were assigned to create their own Above the Influence commercial. In relation to the high school's past experiences, being labeled as bullies, the students decided to make their commercial against labeling. “Labeling is something that is very present at our school, so it taught us ways to deal with it,” said Lachat. Following lunch, the groups shared their filmed commercials. Participants then discussed the business aspects of raising awareness. “I want to make our school a better and safer place as we bring back knowledge to our students and community,” said Rondeau. The high school’s representatives hope to use what they learned to improve our school and make our environment a safer place.