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Clear Spring High wins $500 grant for participating in program

August 07, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

CLEAR SPRING - Clear Spring High School was one of 10 Maryland high schools to receive a state grant for participating in an educational campaign about drinking and drug use.

The school will receive $500, which officials most likely will use for the school's post-prom party, said Matt Wilson, an art teacher who helped coordinate the school's involvement in the I Want to Know/Live Clean campaign.

"It's a celebration where we ask people to come back after prom for an all-night party," he said.

It was shortly after a widely publicized underage drinking party involving nine members of the Clear Spring High School varsity girls soccer team that the school became involved in the statewide campaign, Wilson said.

"That was a pretty tough thing for the community to swallow," he said. "There was a heightened awareness based on that event. We as a school ... we have to respond."

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Students and parents were asked to sign pledges that they would have open discussions about alcohol and drugs, and that students would commit to living clean, according to Linda Bazerjian, spokeswoman for the Maryland State Department of Education. Participating parents and students received wristbands as a sign of their commitment to the pledge.

Of Clear Spring's 524 students, 183 participated, she said. Clear Spring tied for fifth among the state's high schools in participation rate.

At the post-prom party, there are chaperones, and the event lasts until the next morning. Officials typically give away about $2,000 in prizes at the party, as well as provide food, drinks and entertainment.

"It seems like each year we do it, the kids want more," Wilson said. "We have to try to make it better each year."

Bazerjian said many Washington County schools eligible to participate in the program did. She said she was impressed by how seriously schools took the pledge.

"I think there's a lot that goes on with teenagers that we don't know," Wilson said. "Sometimes it's pretty tough to be bold as a parent or any type of authority position to get real with a teenager. I don't think our school is any different than any other schools that have these problems."

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