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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Valley Students Present Anti-Drug Essays In D.C.

Devon Van Dyne, 16, doesn’t remember much about the drug education program she went through. Just one thing stuck in her mind, she said: the lack of a human voice.

So last spring when she heard about the anti-drug essay contest sponsored by U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, she decided to put forward her own ideas.

Van Dyne was one of two Spokane Valley students who presented essays last week to national drug czar Barry McCaffrey and other officials in Washington, D.C. Christopher Holmes, 13, was the other winning student.

Both students emphasized using first-hand stories and advice from former drug and alcohol abusers to help students understand the dangers of drug abuse.

Van Dyne is a student at University High School, where, she said, she regularly hears other students talking about drinking and drugs.

“I hear about it all the time. Kids saying how drunk they got last night, or that they’d tried ‘shrooms,” Van Dyne said. That kind of talk airs among students much more than grownups realize, she said.

In her two years at U-Hi, Van Dyne said, only once has she heard a former drug abuser speak. That was at this spring’s mock car crash event.

“That one person made such a huge impact on me,” she said.

Van Dyne was nervous before reading her essay in Washington, D.C., she said. But she was pleased by how seriously people seemed to take her ideas.

“It was very comforting to have some eye contact and people nodding,” she said. “Actually, I was really surprised that they took us so seriously.”

Holmes said his entry into Nethercutt’s contest came as a class assignment at Bowdish Junior High. He had about a week to work on the proposal.

Meeting House Speaker Newt Gingrich and getting to the top of the Washington Monument were the high points of his trip.

Christopher’s father, Craig Holmes, admitted that by the end of the weeklong trip, they’d seen enough big-city attractions.

“By our last night, we were so lahde-dah’d out, we just went to ‘George of the Jungle,”’ said the senior Holmes.

, DataTimes MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: USE EX-DRUGGIES AS MENTORS Here are excerpts from University High School junior Devon Van Dyne’s essay on fighting drugs:

The first step of the program involves working with drug abusers who have completed their jail sentence, are out on parole and enrolled in rehabilitation. These drug abusers will act as mentors to students in grades three through 12 and discuss their experience with drugs and rehabilitation. They will not speak at a school assembly, but rather talk on an individual basis or with groups of up to six people. Many benefits result from this plan. For one thing, this helps the abuser get over their drug problem by talking about it. It also allows them to feel more positive because they are doing good for the community. Students who use drugs can overcome their problem by working with a mentor who is trying to do the same thing. They can support each other and know that there is someone out there who cares. This plan is also a prevention plan. Since the mentoring program starts in third grade, students will hear about the real story behind drugs at a young age. In grades three through eight, a different mentor will talk to each group of students every month, as it is more important at a younger age to hear many different drug experiences. In grades nine through 12, however, it is more important to develop a lasting bond. Even after a student graduates from high school, mentors and students can still stay in touch to discuss their problems and accomplishments.

TARGET EARLY TEEN YEARS Here are excerpts from Bowdish Junior High eighth-grader Christopher Holmes’ essay on fighting drug abuse:

Kids today have an increasing amount of pressure to abuse drugs and alcohol from peers. The drug resistance programs in place today aren’t doing the good they once were. The agenda proposed is a drug prevention program aimed at seventh- and eighth-graders called CODE R.E.D. (Resistance through Education about Drugs). About 80 percent of the time would be spent on peer pressure and gateway drugs (marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol). The other 20 percent of the time would be spent on hard drugs. Instead of having a program which is aimed at 11 and 12 years olds, such as DARE, create one that is geared to 13 and 14 year olds, where the problem really begins. Showing pictures of what drugs will do to the user’s body, such as a smoker’s black lungs or an alcoholic’s liver, would allow students to see what they will be doing to themselves if they take drugs. Have former drug addicts come talk to kids. In the current drug resistance programs, there is almost equal emphasis on every topic, from hard drugs to peer pressure. Peer pressure is the major thing that gets kids into drugs. If the instructor taught students how to deal with subtle peer pressure, then more of them would know when to say no.

These sidebars appeared with the story: USE EX-DRUGGIES AS MENTORS Here are excerpts from University High School junior Devon Van Dyne’s essay on fighting drugs:

The first step of the program involves working with drug abusers who have completed their jail sentence, are out on parole and enrolled in rehabilitation. These drug abusers will act as mentors to students in grades three through 12 and discuss their experience with drugs and rehabilitation. They will not speak at a school assembly, but rather talk on an individual basis or with groups of up to six people. Many benefits result from this plan. For one thing, this helps the abuser get over their drug problem by talking about it. It also allows them to feel more positive because they are doing good for the community. Students who use drugs can overcome their problem by working with a mentor who is trying to do the same thing. They can support each other and know that there is someone out there who cares. This plan is also a prevention plan. Since the mentoring program starts in third grade, students will hear about the real story behind drugs at a young age. In grades three through eight, a different mentor will talk to each group of students every month, as it is more important at a younger age to hear many different drug experiences. In grades nine through 12, however, it is more important to develop a lasting bond. Even after a student graduates from high school, mentors and students can still stay in touch to discuss their problems and accomplishments.

TARGET EARLY TEEN YEARS Here are excerpts from Bowdish Junior High eighth-grader Christopher Holmes’ essay on fighting drug abuse:

Kids today have an increasing amount of pressure to abuse drugs and alcohol from peers. The drug resistance programs in place today aren’t doing the good they once were. The agenda proposed is a drug prevention program aimed at seventh- and eighth-graders called CODE R.E.D. (Resistance through Education about Drugs). About 80 percent of the time would be spent on peer pressure and gateway drugs (marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol). The other 20 percent of the time would be spent on hard drugs. Instead of having a program which is aimed at 11 and 12 years olds, such as DARE, create one that is geared to 13 and 14 year olds, where the problem really begins. Showing pictures of what drugs will do to the user’s body, such as a smoker’s black lungs or an alcoholic’s liver, would allow students to see what they will be doing to themselves if they take drugs. Have former drug addicts come talk to kids. In the current drug resistance programs, there is almost equal emphasis on every topic, from hard drugs to peer pressure. Peer pressure is the major thing that gets kids into drugs. If the instructor taught students how to deal with subtle peer pressure, then more of them would know when to say no.

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