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G-A students tell their stories

December 17, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - They might walk the halls just like any other happy, carefree high school student.

Yet countless teenagers struggle with issues that would baffle even the most mature person.

The Greencastle-Antrim Peer Leaders shared stories of ordinary - though not necessarily well-known - troubles that students have faced in an effort to raise awareness to those who might face the same difficulties now or in the future.

The presentation Wednesday night of "This is My Story" offered up personal challenges like disease and death, divorce, addiction, depression, bullying, and physical and mental abuse.

The Peer Leaders put on the nearly hourlong presentation, showing how a perfectly normal high school student might deal with such struggles.

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As much as it was about detecting these problems, it also was about preventing them.

"It wasn't just another one of those things telling students not to do drugs," said Jen Everett, a peer leadership advisor at Greencastle-Antrim. "We didn't force-feed the students anything. We let them take from it what they needed."

In fact, the students came on their own accord.

The presentation was a followup to an in-school assembly that the Peer Leaders put on in October. The response was so positive that they decided to do an encore, which this time was open to parents of Greencastle students.

"We thought it would be a good idea because we got really good feedback from the assembly," said sophomore Emily Copenhaver, a member of the Peer Leaders. "It just helps make people aware of some of the things that students might face in life."

The presentation began with a 15-minute slideshow of Greencastle students to lighten the mood before delving into the much more painful - and true - stories that would follow.

The stories were told anonymously, with only the student silhouette shown behind a curtain. The first was about the worry and embarrassment caused by having alcoholic parents unwilling to change their reckless behavior.

"I've been here for 11 years and I've never seen students so attentive," said Diane Reed, counselor and peer leadership advisor. "They are real stories from real students that were in this school."

The presentation was "100 percent" the idea of the students, Everett said. In the future, the presentation could be used as an orientation for incoming freshman students in an effort to prevent more of these true stories from having to be told.

Following the presentation, parents were invited from the auditorium to a nearby classroom which was made into a teenager's bedroom. Inside, the parents' assignment was to find paraphernalia and identify the substance it is associated with.

Most had few problems doing so.

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