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Distorted Vision

Activities change way students look at impaired driving

Premier Academy students took “P.R.I.D.E.” in their Red Ribbon Week activities Friday.

The school’s approximately 80 students took part in a full day activities for Red Ribbon Week, illustrating that they are “Personally Responsible In choosing Drug-free Existence.”

The school participates in Red Ribbon Week every year, said Shannon Manietta, office manager for the school.

“To make kids aware of the facts of drugs they may be using,” she said. The school came up with the slogan to make them understand drug use is their choice.

The students split up into groups doing different activities. The first group did things such as putting a puzzle together, driving remote-controlled cars and walking a straight line while wearing impairment goggles that give the students the feeling of doing things while being drunk.

“It is way harder than it looks,” said Casey Stepp, 17, of Coal City. He tried to walk the line twice before he quit.

Brittney Hill, 18, of Morris, had a difficult time as well trying to drive a remote-controlled car while wearing the goggles.

“I’m never driving drunk, I just killed someone,” she said as she crashed the race car into a chair.

The purpose of these activities is to illustrate to the students the risk they take while drinking or doing drugs. Many of the students took the experience to heart.

“It definitely makes you think twice about getting in a car (after being under the influence),” said Susan Ballard, 18, of Coal City.

Other activities included computer games quizzing the kids on how drugs affect the body and animated computer presentations on how drugs affect the brain.

Students also got to hear real-life stories of the realities of living a life full of drugs. Steve Catalano of Joliet and Marc Milburn, 2011 graduate of Premier, told the kids of their struggles and how they overcame them.

Catalano was a drug addict for decades and calls the people he’s met on his journey to sobriety and through Narcotics Anonymous his “new family.”

“Those people out there aren’t your friends, they wanted what I had, drugs or money,” he said.

“The greatest time I’ve ever had in my life is since I got clean,” said Catalano. “My worst day clean is better than my best day high.”

As the men talked, the students listened intently. Tristan Durov, 16, of Shorewood, appreciated hearing a success story from a fellow Premier student. He called the speakers inspiring.

“It is something to gain from them. He also was a former student who just graduated from here. We can relate to him,” Durov said.

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