Hinsdale South students get look at spiral of drug abuse
Jack O'Donnell talks about losing all the important people in his life and he's left with only his cell phone in an exercise at Hinsdale South High School Thursday. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Have a fun summer
Among the ideas South students had to keep busy this summer were:
Go see a live theater production
Go to the Brookfield Zoo
Tropical snow cones
Six Flags Great America
Hide and seek in Ikea
Parkour (Free Running)
A fake moustache
Run a lemonade stand
Updated: July 3, 2012 8:52AM
Hinsdale South High School’s students had heard the anti-drug message before. But this time was different, sophomore Amelia Manley said.
“It was better than just being told not to do it,” Manley said after taking part in a forum designed to help kids make good choices as they leave for summer break.
The program, attended by all South students during gym classes on Thursday, featured a 17-minute video in which student leaders interviewed two recovering addicts.
To sophomore Tori Benes, that made all the difference. She said hearing from people who made the wrong choices will help her and her peers make the right ones.
“It’s definitely becoming a problem in our school and our community,” said senior Natalie Tomerlin, who appeared in the video and facilitated a small-group discussion Thursday. She agreed that interviewing the addicts brought the message home.
The program was put together within the last few weeks, in response to reports of the rise of heroin use in the suburbs.
“It’s out there in the community,” said Social Worker Edmund Arroyo, who led production of the video. “We’re trying to be a little bit proactive.”
Staff from the school’s social work office sought input from experts at Robert Crown Center and Rosecrance in developing the “43 Seconds” program that followed the video.
The exercise illustrated the rapid loss of control people experience with addiction. Led by fellow students, each student was instructed to write down three people they care about, three valuable possessions, three activities they enjoy and three personal qualities they value.
Next, leaders asked the students to put themselves into a series of scenarios.
“You have been invited to a party. You come home late, after curfew, smelling like alcohol after trying it for the first time. Your parents are waiting up for you. You’re in big trouble.”
Students were given 15 seconds to decide which of their three prized possessions would be taken away as punishment.
Subsequent scenarios involving more bad decisions led to more losses, each coming more quickly than the one before.
That’s what happens with drug and alcohol use, explained student leader Sarah Prosia. Life can quickly spin out of control.
At the end of the 43 Seconds exercise, freshman Jack O’Donnell was left with nothing but his phone.
“I have my phone, but I don’t have anyone to call,” said O’Donnell, who said there likely wouldn’t be money to pay the bill anyway.
The exercise ended with a brainstorming session in which students were asked to come up with fun, safe things to do this summer. The list will be emailed out to parents, said Social Worker Nancy Betker, and items from the list will be posted as reminders throughout the school as students close out the school year.
Principal Brian Waterman encouraged students to think back to the day’s events as they embark on summer break.
“All it takes is one negative decision,” he said. “The goal of today is to protect the dreams of our 1,900 students here at Hinsdale South.”