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Students get sobering lesson about alcohol

April 17, 2006

Fifth-graders at Salem Avenue Elementary School in Hagerstown learned about the dangers of underage drinking on April 6 when Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long visited the school to participate in a Reach Out Now Teach-In program.

Reach Out Now Teach-In is a nationwide program sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to help prevent underage drinking.

"Most fifth-graders in our community are not using alcohol, but it is a decision many face," said James Conrad, coordinator of the Curbing Underage Drinking Program for the Washington County Health Department. "Nationally, 10 percent of 9- to 10-year-olds say that they already have started drinking alcohol. Reach Out Now Teach-In is an important step in helping our kids get a clear and consistent message at home and at school that underage drinking is dangerous, illegal and unacceptable."

According to the 2004 Maryland adolescent survey, 7.1 percent of sixth-graders and 26.2 percent of eighth-graders in Washington County reported trying beer, wine or wine coolers in a 12-month period.

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Salem Avenue Elementary School was one of hundreds of schools nationwide to hold a Reach Out Now Teach-In during the week. Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey II issued a proclamation designating April as Alcohol Awareness Month.

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