By Ely Schosek
Growing up, we are always told to “just say no” to drugs and alcohol and to “make good decisions.”
Although these things are more of an issue when kids become teenagers, it’s still something that is taught to younger students with the mindset that if these ideas are instilled at a younger age, they will be more likely to follow them in the future.
Recently, a group of Springville High School students traveled to Springville Elementary School to talk to the fourth-grade classes about making positive choices.
“It’s important for kids to know how to make good decisions,” Annemarie Harrigan said. “I hope that coming from high schoolers it might stick with them. Similarly, Henry Domst mentioned that these kids look up to older kids which makes them interested in what they have to say.
Some of these high school students were part of S.A.D.D., which stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions, and others were part of the National Honor Society. A few were members of both.
Regardless of which organization they are a part of, these students are exemplary in their school and community and serve as excellent role models for the young and developing minds of SES fourth graders.
SADD Advisor Mrs. Urban mentioned to the volunteers that these kids will always remember you, even when they’re older.
SADD President Evelyn Smith noted that this was her second year participating in this program and that she loves it. “The kids are always good listeners and are really into learning about what we have to say,” she added.
Henry has also participated in the program the last two years, saying “I did it for the past two years because of the impact speaking to young children has on their views on healthy choices.
Like many others, Evelyn added that she likes being able to influence the kids, “especially on this topic and in this day and age.”
Sonya Krezmien added that “you can also answer questions they have on the topics that they might not ask adults.”
When asked why it was a good experience, the volunteers had varying answers.
“I think it was a great experience to educate younger kids and inspire them to make good decisions,” Olivia Giammarco said.
“It felt great to be able to give advice to younger kids who could really use it growing up,” Keaton Wnuk added.
Julie Bartoszek mentioned that it “felt rewarding after knowing that we helped prevent kids from doing drugs in the future and taught them how to say ‘no’ to somebody offering drugs.”
The students divided into smaller groups of about three or four people and each group was then assigned a classroom to talk to. The presentation was scripted, but some groups were able to complete the assigned tasks with time to spare, which they used beneficially.
Evelyn’s group used the extra time to let students ask questions to clear up any confusion they had on the topics. Henry’s group let the kids think of pretend situations which they talked through together and discussed good choices in that certain situation.
One thing that definitely stood out in all of the classrooms was the amount of participation on the student’s part.
“All of the kids were very attentive and when we asked the first question, almost the whole class, eager to participate, raised their hands,” Julie said. Annemarie said something very similar.
Olivia said she was surprised by “how educated the fourth graders already were on making good decisions and the many effects of smoking and drinking.”
Julie and Keaton made mention that it was a great opportunity for them to give back to their community. Others mentioned it being a good experience to connect with the kids.
“It was a good experience because you get to help younger kids help see the dangers of alcohol and drugs,” Sonya said.
“I definitely do believe in the message behind it, that everyone should try to make good decisions so that was a way for me to spread awareness for something that I think is important,” Olivia added.
“It gives them the best chance at a successful future if they are more knowledgeable about peer pressure and refusal skills,” Julie said, citing a few topics of the presentation.
Sonya mentioned that you are teaching them “how to say no to things they would think they didn’t have to worry about but they do.”
All in all, SES fourth-grade students are lucky to have this opportunity to speak with these exemplary SGI students. It seems that the volunteers got just as much out of the experience as the kids did!