CMS Sixth Graders Learn to Work as a Team during the “Drug Store” program
Nearly 300 sixth graders at Coronado Middle School experienced hands on learning and a rollercoaster of emotions as they witnessed the drug use, poor choices and eventual “death” of a peer in a simulation called “Drug Store”.
Thanks to a generous donation by SAFE board member Gene Kemp and support of the CMS Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), the Coronado SAFE coalition was able to, for the ninth straight year, organize and execute this amazing event. PTO members and CMS parents Maria Simon and Nancy Manning were the volunteer coordinators, working closely with SAFE executive director Andrea Webster and many others to bring this powerful program to our sixth graders.
The students got to see some of the negative effects of drugs at this station provided by the National Guard
Thursday, March 29, 2012, the first floor of Coronado Middle School was transformed into an intense learning environment focused on the ill effects of drug and alcohol abuse. There were seven learning stations and eight scenes. Each station provided a different experience. Goals and Dreams, Character Counts, the Natural High video, Peer to Peer, an ambulance display, and two “ropes” stations led by the National Guard gave the students opportunities to think about individual goals and making good choices, put teamwork to the test, and literally see, through demonstration with blurry goggles and pictures, the horrible consequences of using drugs and alcohol.
CHS Students Catherine, Natalie, Amanda, Maude, John, Sarah and Kara volunteered to help with the program
Each of the eight scenes was sequential and took the group of students through a classmates’ journey from stealing drugs, being arrested and booked, attending court and counseling, making a poor choice not to stop the abuse, a hospital visit and a very emotional and unpleasant ending, to a funeral. The student victims were accompanied by their parents in several of the scenes strengthening the impression made on the audience of classmates.
Many of the sixth graders admitted that when their classmate took some drugs off a table after a presentation by a DEA agent, they couldn’t believe their eyes. A common reaction was, “Did that just happen?” After the classmate was arrested and led out by Coronado Police Officers the rest of the class was shuttled to station 2 where many of them realized it was only a drill. The emotion and realism, however, provide for a very moving and dramatic experience.
It took over 100 volunteers to execute the four hour program. Volunteers included parents, high school students and many professionals from our community. Youth-Parent Services Officer Aaron Mansker and his fellow officers expressed the belief that this program is so important because it shows our children that things are preventable. School board member Dawn Ovrom was volunteering at her seventh “Drug Store”, while many other parents were experiencing it for the first time. Hospitality Chair Debbie Karney once again did a great job.
“Drugs and alcohol threaten the health and well-being of our children. Participation in the Drug Store program gives them first-hand experience that will stay with them when they face a difficult decision presented to them in the future, “said SAFE Executive Director Andrea Webster.
The entire adventure was summed up excellently by sixth grader Dillon Linde who told me, “I liked what we did today. It was powerful. It was great!”
As students walked past the open casket and peered in, they were met with their own reflection.
Councilman Mike Woiwode and SAFE Board President Scott Barr were in attendance to show their support
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P.S. This was my first experience with the Drug Store program. I volunteered and had a sixth grader experience it. The amount of work that went into the planning and the number of professionals and other volunteers who gave their time to ensure the success of the day, are amazing. How lucky we are to live in a community where people care enough to make this kind of awesome program available to our youth. Applause to all for a job well done!
Photos by Kellee Hearther and Andrea Webster