Mayor, Teen Leadership participants talk to fifth graders

NEWTON, NC (April 25, 2013) – More than 100 fourth and fifth grade students at South Newton and Thornton elementary schools on Tuesday heard from Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman and a group of Teen Leadership Newton participants about the impact and pitfalls of drug use on their futures.

“As you move to middle school and eventually high school, you will face new challenges,” Mayor Stedman said. “With me today are students from Newton-Conover High School. They’re here to talk to you about how using drugs can have long-term consequences on your life.”

Teen Leadership participants Sophie Davis, Wilson Elliott, Rachael Hamm, Alex Howell, Sarahi Robles and Taylor Thompson spoke to students about marijuana and the peer pressure they may face from friends to do drugs, the perception of others regarding those who use drugs and the effect on academics and sports.

The teens stressed that students should remain true to themselves and define themselves individually, rather than letting their peers decide who they are. True friends would respect the decision of their friends who choose not to do drugs, the group said. And people who choose to use drugs may gain a negative public perception.

Using marijuana could also negatively affect their academics and opportunities to participate in sports as goals are reprioritized, the teens said. Drug use could lead to declining grades, which not only immediately affects students, but also their chances of getting into college. High school students who participate in sports face random drug tests, and failing one could lead to immediate suspension from the team.

The teens also offered themselves as resources for the fifth graders. The high school students have set up purple boxes at the two elementary schools and will personally respond to any questions – relating to drugs or growing up.

The Teen Leadership students presented a similar presentation to the Newton City Council in March, spurring the presentations this week. As part of the Teen Leadership program, the students chose a “hot topic” they believe the City Council should address in the next decade. Their presentation urged the City Council to educate children early on about drug prevention, offer alternative after school activities and programs, raise parents’ awareness and to offer a guidance program where younger children could write to teens for advice.