Teens or Younger May Want to Read Sunny's Story

In a recent newsletter, HC DrugFree suggested to our followers that you may want to read Sunny's Story  We asked 2 Howard County Public School students entering 9th and 11th grade as well as adults to read Sunny's Story and share their thoughts with you:

9th grader: Sunny's Story is about a dog, Sunny, who was adopted by an innocent, smart and happy little boy named Ian. As Ian grew older, he started becoming more distant and started smoking and drinking and doing drugs. The drugs made him depressed and when he went to college he started doing worse drugs and he needed help. He couldn't take the withdrawal symptoms and did his last drugs and died of an overdose. His parents realized that they needed to speak out and make sure that kids can talk about their drug use in order to help the families in similar situations.

11th grader:  I found the book very interesting and able to grab my attention because of the unique perspective in which it was written. Since it was so short, I was able to read it in one sitting which helped me to go straight through and made it a bit more emotional. The fact that this was a true story made it even more touching and impactful because it shows that it can really happen to anyone, and these stories aren't so far off, but are happening to all different types of people. I highly recommend this book to all ages and think it could be both beneficial and impactful to a broad range of people.

Senior Week 2018: Through the Eyes of a Teen

Senior Week 2018: Through the Eyes of a Howard County Teen

In partnership with the Ocean City Police, Ocean City Beach Patrol, Howard County Public School System and the PTSAs, HC DrugFree holds at least 2 Senior Week: Staying Safe in Ocean City programs each school year. Our goal is to prepare teens and parents for what can happen during Senior Week as well as help families determine if their teens are responsible enough to go to the shore without supervision. 

Here is what one Howard County teen wrote about a 2018 Senior Week experience:

Senior week 2018 was an interesting time to say the least. I went in fully expecting to see my peers either drunk or high, and yet I was still surprised. My entire week was filled with students openly drinking on the beach, using e-cigarettes, and the constant smell of weed. It was certainly an eye opening experience. Even just walking down the street I felt like a delinquent. 

My friends and I were walking home from a late dinner at around 10 p.m. when a cop car turns into the street we were walking down. Confused as to what to do we just kept walking right past the cop car. Had we been drinking that situation could have ended differently. 

If you decide to go to Senior Week to drink and party, be safe and smart. You don’t want you or your friends getting alcohol poisoning or getting a citation for underage drinking. 

It seems Senior Week is mainly meant for students to get away from their parents and party for seven days. While I certainly had a great time with my friends on the boardwalk, I feel this experience could have been more enjoyable without all the other seniors partying. 

HC DrugFree thanks the Ocean City Police and Beach Patrol for looking out for our youth during Senior Week and our families throughout the year.

Yippee!!! Senior Year

Senior year!!! What is supposed to be a breeze was so stressful. But don’t let the stress get to you and try not to procrastinate too much. As I get ready for college, I know I’m prepared. The Howard County Public School System has prepared me education wise, by allowing me to take all honors, GT and AP classes. But life wise I’m kinda nervous, but I think I’ll be fine. I’ve made friends at the college I’ll be attending, and I’m playing collegiate soccer so I know I will be extra focused. Good luck to the person who is reading this.

To Incoming Freshmen:

Do NOT feel pressured to experiment with drugs. Many around you will smoke or Juul and the long-term damage is not worth it. If your “best friend” pressures you into trying, reject it. A real friend wouldn’t.

Dear Maryland/Howard County Parents, Teachers, Adults:

We are now in an age where widespread drug and vape usage has increased; now it is not an uncommon sight for school bathrooms or classrooms to be shut down because of needed cleaning or prevention of rapid drug use. Soon where students leave high school environments or go to college there will be more influences like drugs or alcohol so the time to talk to your kids is now.

What I've Seen at HC DrugFree Teen Advisory Council (TAC) Meetings

I have been an HC DrugFee TAC member for the past half year. Attending meetings has helped me see the issues students of different grades, schools, and genders have experienced because they’re very different from mine. I’ve learned that an issue like drugs is not only about what my eyes see, but about the experiences all across the county. It’s also been nice to meet with a group of students who, even if I don’t know them as well, have the same goals for teen safety as me.

Locked School Bathrooms

In high school, the presence of drugs is definitely inevitable. There’s always going to be that “bathroom” in school that is infamously known as a place for drugs and exchanges. For students, it becomes a serious issue. People have to avoid these spots that are meant for a simple human necessity. It’s important that teachers and staff understand this because it’s growing problem. This should become a priority in the upcoming years.

Smoking Marijuana in School Bathrooms

I find it both frustrating and surprising that bathrooms are being locked in high schools because teens are smoking marijuana in them. The distinct smell fills the bathroom and makes it hard to stay in there for more than 15 seconds. I shouldn’t have to walk upstairs or across the building just to use the restroom because of careless teen behavior.

Vaping at School: Teen Perspective

Vaping has become an epidemic in HCPSS schools. From foggy cars to locked bathrooms, not a day goes by where I don’t see another reminder of this growing trend. First, it was cars. Then, it was the bathrooms. Now, students are taking hits from their Juul or vape pen in the middle of the classroom. I even once found a Juul laying under my lunch table! It seems like everyone has tried it. While there are plenty of valid legal and health concerns with it, the most troublesome aspect of it for me personally has got to be the consistently locked bathrooms. I don’t have time to traverse the school searching for a bathroom that isn’t fogged up! Schools need to crack down on this harmful, annoying practice, and get it out of county schools.

What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

At HC DrugFree's recent Teen Advisory Council (TAC) meeting, high school teens discussed what they would tell their younger self entering 9th grade. Here are their answers:

Drugs including alcohol have never made a teen's life better or easier.

Don't stress about everything. Relax. Stressing is a waste of time.

Start a club to get others to join you in doing what you like to do.

While they matter, grades don't matter as much as you think.

Be open to making new friends and don't be quick to judge others.

Friends will not stay the same throughout high school years. 

Choose friends wisely because they will influence your choices. 

Make a good impression on others (especially teachers and adults who might provide reference letters).

Don't be afraid to ask for help (especially from teachers).

Don't procrastinate. Have better time management skills.

Find healthy ways to deal with stress such as exercising or getting more sleep.

Study in advance of tests.

Don't party as much.

Drugs (including alcohol) make teens focus on the wrong things such as getting more drugs.

Know your family history about drugs and alcohol before you try them.

Don't do drugs (including alcohol)!!!

Avoid the "bad school bathroom" where teens use drugs.

I've never met a drug dealer who wasn't caught so don't deal or buy drugs.

Don't let peers/friends influence you to do something you usually would not do.

Don't make bad decisions that will impact your life and reputation.

Have fun, but know your limits.

Don't stay up too late doing homework and studying. 

Do your homework in the morning when you're fresh.

Know the Good Samaritan Law so you can help others and stay out of trouble.

Don't stay tied down to relationships just to have a high school sweetheart. 

Dating is not worth the time or drama. 

Support your friends during dating breakups even when you want to say you warned them.

Social media spreads information to everyone so there are no secrets.

Get a job and make money for what you want rather than wasting time on what you don't want.

Don't get into fights over dating relationships. 

Try to read people better and avoid fake people. 

Make upperclassman friend.

Drugs and alcohol are not worth it.