Teacher testimonials aim to deter students from substance abuse


Elad Gov-Ari

Tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 2 University of Missouri students and RBHS teachers will present anti-substance testimonials and resources from the Missouri Safe and Drug Free Schools program in the main gym every block throughout the day.
The presentation aims to deter students from participating in substance consumption through the sharing of anecdotal stories and explaining potential repercussions, said Student Council sponsor Kelly Wittenborn.
“Overall, the administration and staff at Rock Bridge have noticed a continuous increase in the amount of Rock Bridge students that choose to engage in underage drinking or using substances,” Wittenborn said. “While this is concerning, it is especially alarming how many students choose to attend school-sponsored events such as dances or sporting events under the influence, some even going as far as to drink while at the events. This is concerning in many ways: Obviously first and foremost it is illegal and against all RBHS rules and policies. However, beyond that, we as a staff are greatly concerned with the safety of our students in the realms of driving to and from these events, high levels of intoxication that indicate binge drinking, and the physical, mental, and emotional effects that alcohol can have on underage bodies.”
With student safety in mind, a slew of RBHS teachers are coming out and speaking of past experiences. The speakers are Jon Myers, Stephanie Harmon, Shawnna Matteson, Candice Swee, Greg Irwin, Scott Wittenborn and David Egan.
Student Council president senior Dalton Nunamaker has witnessed substance abuse firsthand at school dances and hopes this assembly will give insight to students on the risks they may be taking.
“I think [students will] be receptive at the meeting, at least most students for sure will be [attentive],” Nunamaker said. “I’m sure there will be some people that are just gonna not listen or pay attention to anything but for the most part I’m hoping that they’re receptive at the start and I think the stories will be impactful, just the speakers that we bring in should be able to portray the message [well], because they know the emotions that come with it and I think that’ll be brought to our students in a new way.”
Student drinking, Wittenborn claims, has significantly in the past few years and thus the assembly of teachers is aimed to make school dances both safe and fun. AP world history teacher, and testimonial speaker, Shawna Matteson is familiar with substance prevention groups. Similar to Wittenborn she hopes to share her experiences in order to raise awareness for impaired driving and things of the sort.
I’ve lost more than one student in car accidents and so to me part of what’s important about being a teacher is trying to help your students realize that they have more power in a moments decision to affect the direction of their life than they realize because you’re still used to being a kid,” Matteson said. “You’re so used to mom and dad sweeping you up and putting a bandaid on your owwie and everything’s okay and it’s hard to realize that you’ve gone to a place now where you can make a decision that will alter your life.”
The goal of the assembly is obvious: keeping kids safe. With the collaboration of student council and studies teachers, the efforts hope to see a decrease in student substance abuse this coming season.
“What I want is for them to go learn from someone else’s experience rather than take the chance on learning it,” Matteson “What I expect is that there are some kids that will tune me out ‘I’ll never do that. That’ll never happen to me’. You’re ten foot tall and bulletproof as a teenager. And the thing is that you have this attitude that things like that happen to other people. Well between you and I, I am the other person to you and you are the other person to me. So couldn’t it happen to both of us?”
Additional reporting by Maya Bell.