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SADD students discuss their work and concerns

on March 9, 2018
Six members of SADD pose for the camera

High School members of SADD.

Of six students gathered for a recent meeting of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), four are close to someone whose life has been affected by substance abuse. They know it’s a problem in their community, and among their peers. They wish adults would acknowledge it and talk about it. They wish their peers would listen.

SADD is primarily concerned with promoting smart decisions and positive behaviors. The club’s awareness and prevention efforts begin at the Middle School. During Red Ribbon Week in October, SADD members set up shop in the school’s cafeteria and invited students to pledge to make smart decisions and achieve their future goals. The pledges were posted on a banner that now hangs in the cafeteria. This spring, SADD members will bring a “just say no” message to the middle schoolers during health classes.

A wall banner titled, "I will achieve my future goals by..." The banner is made up of tens of small red peices of paper with individual pledges from students.

Banner created by SADD members and Middle School students during Red Ribbon Week.

Concerns of SADD members…

“I joined SADD because of what it stands for, and because I was aware of the prevalence of substance abuse,” said Anabel Field, a junior. She finds that her peers don’t take these issues seriously enough.

Club president Emma Davis, a senior, has been with the club since it resumed in 2016-17. She is most proud of the club’s Red Ribbon Week pledge banner at the middle school, but she is cognizant of what they are up against. “Drug abuse has become such a common place that some of our peers don’t think we can have an impact,” Emma said. “We are growing and trying out different things, but it’s a process.”

Jillian Queen, a junior, is especially concerned with the awareness aspect of the group’s efforts. “Kids get involved with substance abuse without considering the consequences, Jillian said. “They don’t think they run the risk of becoming addicted, or that it can ruin their lives, but actions have consequences.”

Natalie Manelis, senior, believes that a motivational speaker could have a powerful impact. “I saw Marc Mero online presenting to an high school assembly,” Natalie said. “He left everyone crying. I was crying. I contacted him, and he said he’d be happy to speak to our school.” Natalie is also concerned about the prevalence of vaping among younger teens. “I know 14-year-old kids who are already addicted to nicotine.”

A conversation with Raymond Mark, SADD advisor…

I always felt that this was important. Kids need help making good decisions. It’s nice to know we have students concerned about their peers,” said club advisor Raymond Mark, a math teacher. “We’re here to help them, help each other.”

According to Mr. Mark, while substance abuse and other destructive decisions are difficult subjects, mired in negativity, SADD is focused on engaging students in positive activities.

That was the case with a recent flower fundraiser conceived around the idea of spreading positive messages, from student to student. Participants purchased a carnation and chose a positive message from a selection of 12. SADD members delivered their flowers and messages to the intended recipient: “Thank you for being a friend”; “You are amazing…just the way you are”; “You are important to me”; or simply, “Hakuna Matata!”

In its comeback year, the club attracted only six students. Now, in its second academic year, the club has 20 members. “We want to grow our numbers, so we can get more students involved, and get them ready to empower themselves to make better decisions,” Mr. Mark said. “If we can change one person’s outlook, we’ve done our job.”


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