WMU News

High school students get facts about drinking, drugging

Feb. 8, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Helping area high school students avoid the pitfalls of drinking and drug use that some college students experience is the goal of the second annual "Get With the Program" conference from 8:45 a.m. to noon Friday, Feb. 22, at Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center.

The event orients high school students toward an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle and is being sponsored by WMU and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies. It will feature mentors from WMU student organizations who will share factual information through a theatrical presentation, panel discussion and game show.

Fourteen high schools in four counties were invited to select groups of juniors and seniors to send to the conference. Nine schools responded to the invitation before the program's limit of 250 participants was reached: Comstock, Kalamazoo Central, Kalamazoo Christian, Mattawan, Portage Central, Portage Northern, Schoolcraft, Three Rivers and Vicksburg.

"We realize that not all high school graduates go to college, but all are faced with difficult decisions regarding alcohol, drugs and relationships," says Victor Manzon, director of WMU's Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.

"The more informed they are on these subjects, the greater the likelihood that the decisions they make will have desirable consequences. By reaching out to them early through "Get With the Program," we expose them to the realities of alcohol and drug use as well as dispel some of the myths associated with college life."

Manzon said the response to that outreach effort has been so overwhelmingly positive that his office is considering conducting next year's conference in WMU's 3,500-seat Miller Auditorium, so more schools and more students will be able to attend.

"Get With the Program" 2002 will begin at 8:45 a.m. with welcoming remarks by WMU President Elson S. Floyd and Manzon.

From 9 to 10 a.m., those in attendance will be treated to a powerful presentation by GreatSexpectations, WMU's award-winning theatrical group sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Office of Health Promotion and Education. Students in this innovative troupe use short sketches and vignettes about realistic situations to convey important messages and facts about alcohol, drugs and relationships.

Then from 10:15 to 11 a.m., a panel composed of members of Students Socializing Sober will discuss topics such as how they successfully navigate an alcohol-obsessed social world without drinking and ways they have found to more fully enjoy life without engaging in dangerous behaviors. Some of the panelists also will talk about problems that alcohol has caused in their lives.

The third and final portion of the conference will be a game show called "Who Wants to Feel Like A Millionaire?" from 11:15 a.m. to noon. This WMU version of the popular television show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" will ask audience members to come down to the stage and demonstrate their knowledge of alcohol and other drugs. In case players get stumped, lifelines will help them choose the right answers.

"Western Michigan University has made a commitment to reducing underage use of alcohol and drugs through its campus-based alcohol and drug education programs," says Beth A. Schwartz, special projects coordinator in the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.

"'The youth conference is an informative, entertaining and effective way for high schools to complement their existing prevention efforts. Our students are in a unique position of being able help put on this program because they can still identify with high school students, yet their college status lends to their being perceived as role models."

Schwartz notes that in addition to hearing straight talk about drinking and drugging, high school students attending "Get With the Program" will hear firsthand accounts of how much fun college can be when they stay sober and how positive lifestyle choices can enrich their social and academic lives.

"Underage drinking and binge drinking on college campuses have become more visible over the past few years," she adds.

"High school students enter college with the impression that drinking is expected of them-it's a right of passage. The story not being told is that most college students don't become involved in dangerous drinking or drug use during their campus experiences."

Media Advisory: To ensure appropriate space accommodations, news organizations planning to cover the "Get With the Program" conference are asked to call WMU's Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention at least one day prior to the event. To report the number of photographers, camera operators and/or reporters who will be attending, call the office at (269) 387-2260.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400