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Friday, June 11, 2004


Students and school board discuss ways to curb drug, alcohol use

Express Staff Writer

Eight Blaine County students recently attended the Idaho Summit on Alcohol and other Drug Issues sponsored by the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws on May 11 and 12. The students presented their findings at the Blaine County School District Board of Trustees Meeting, on Tuesday, June 8. At the request of the school board, the students will take their findings to local legislators.

The students attended the conference held in Boise through their involvement with Youth Adult Konnections known as YAK! The students who attended included YAK! members Jessica Waszak, Tony Reyes, Kate Zook, Marissa Evans, Shellie Skahill, Lacey Boyett and Matt Hansen.

Over the two days, the conference identified drug and alcohol related issues and made recommendations for Idaho to overcome the problems.

Because the conference primarily attracted adults, the studentís voices were an important insight into the drug and alcohol issues that teenagers face in Idaho.

"There were not many youth at the conference. It was great to have eight Blaine County representatives," noted Angenie McClearly of YAK!. "They fought to have the kids in their groups."

The students were able to take part in the groups that discussed topics of interest to them.

"It was encouraging to see the students talking so candidly about the issues they know first hand," said Hailey Hodges, an AmeriCorps volunteer who attended the conference with the students.

Waszak, Reyes, Zook and Evan represented the group at the meeting, speaking equally as candidly with the Blaine County School Board trustees.

Zook, a senior at Wood River High School participated in a group that discussed how to limit youth access to drugs and alcohol in Idaho.

In order to curb use, Zook explained her group recommended the state take action to help educate teachers identify when students are under the influence, require those who sell alcohol are 21 years old, be consistent when sentencing youth with drug and alcohol charges and provide accessible activities for kids.

The School Board listened intently to the studentsí recommendations and questioned the group on the direction drug education should take in Blaine County Schools.

"Health isnít enough," sophomore Waszak remarked.

The students verbalized the importance of consistent drug education starting in elementary school and continuing through high school.

The studentís presentation at the School Board Meeting was the initial action to capture the attention of those who can implement a change in drug and alcohol education and policies. The activism is consistent with the mission of YAK! "One of the purposes of YAK! is to get involved in policy making and education," said McClearly.

After hearing the student presentation, the School Board motioned for the group to take their recommendations to legislators.


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