On Thursday, October 26, Heritage Middle School students participated in a school-wide visual representation of the effects of drug and alcohol use on teenagers.
According to recent studies, six teenagers die of drug and alcohol related causes every hour.
This is just one of many statistics that prompted three HMS students – Faith Jimenez, Alec Morin, and Max Dement – to make a larger impact on drug and alcohol awareness during Red Ribbon Week and to bring attention to this dire problem.
The three students found research supporting the idea scholars learn best when they hear and see information. Based on this research, the students created an activity that gave a visual representation about the devastating results of drugs and alcohol.
Throughout the day, a statistic about drugs and alcohol was read aloud over the public address system at the beginning of each class period. In correspondence with these messages, the “Grim Reaper”, HMS English teacher Tate Albright, walked in a classroom and took a pre-selected student out of the class. The selected student was deemed “an unfortunate statistic of drug or alcohol use”and donned all black clothing the remainder of they day. The student also wore a sign placed around their neck explaining to their peers that they represented a student who had died of drug and alcohol related causes that day.
The students then walked around the rest of the day in silence with the sign. As the number of silent, sign-wearing students grew, other students began to take notice of the project.
By the end of the day, 45 students had “lost their life” as a result drug and alcohol abuse. Being that six students die every hour due to drug and alcohol use, each of the students represented the loss of a real life in the United States throughout the school day.
For the conclusion of the event, the 45 “deceased” students lined in the halls as the student body exited the building while honoring a moment of silence to reflect on the effects of drugs and alcohol.
The project had a significant impact on students.
“I didn’t realize that so many students were dying every day because of drugs and alcohol,” explained Gage Cobb, who was one of the students pre-selected to participate as a statistical representation of a student who died.
“Being a part of this project made me think about the problem and realize that I don’t want this to happen to me or any of my friends.”