Five seniors at Pocahontas County High School are taking a stand against bad decisions. As the officers of SADD – Students Against Destructive Decisions – president Ally Dunbrack, vice president Steven Simmons, vice president and media contact Heather Pritt, secretary Olivia Knisely and treasurer Allie Plate are ready to help their fellow students make the right decisions.
The club began with help from Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition member Cheryl Jonese, who recruited the students to bring SADD back into the school.
“Three of us were on the Above the Influence poster,” Plate said.
Plate, Simmons and Pritt were featured on the poster and they recruited Knisely and Dunbrack to join because they set good examples.
In November, the students attended a conference at Cedar Lakes to learn more about their roles as leaders in the movement.
“At our conference, we attended seminars to give us information on how to deal with bullying – whether it be in person or cyber-bullying – drunk driving, avoiding tobacco and being above the influence in general,” Dunbrack said. “We also got to have a lot of fun with students of all ages from across the state of West Virginia who share the same values as us.”
The conference was an eye-opening experience for several of the students who didn’t realize the gravity of bad decisions made by today’s teens.
“It opened up my eyes to see what was really going on,” Simmons said. “Eighty percent of drunk driving accidents involve teens and that’s pretty amazing. That’s too high. I joined and I want to help bring that down because that’s way too many people.”
Knisely added that the seminars made her realize how important the program will be at PCHS.
“As soon as we started socializing and getting more interactive with everything, and going through those workshops, it did kind of give us a reality check,” she said. “We really need to bring this into our school because a bunch of the stuff they went over with us does happen in our school like underage drinking, tobacco use, drug use and I personally wanted to bring [SADD] in here to make it stop.”
Pritt and Plate said they hope that students realize you don’t have to do drugs and drink alcohol to be cool, and it is important to rise above in order to get a better education.
“I have the opportunity to help other people in my school that may not have had the education that we have had the chance to have,” Pritt said. “Even just being around each other, it shows you don’t have to be into drinking and into drugs just to be cool.”
“SADD means to me that I get to see all my classmates walk across the stage with me because I don’t lose them to texting and driving, drugs, underage drinking, tobacco use, or anything like that,” Plate said. “Hopefully I could prevent the younger generation from going through all that, too.”
The students are currently participating in the MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving] sponsored “Tie One On” campaign. They are providing red ribbons for people to hang in their vehicles to show they are against drunk driving.
Because the club is new, the students are still gathering information and finding projects to do in the community and at the school. After the new year, the club will have a meeting to recruit more members and make plans for 2015.