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Wellness Week promotes sobriety at Greencastle prom

May 13, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- By itself, high school can be an exhausting cocktail of peer pressure.

But mix in one part identity crisis and two parts vanity with a splash of self-esteem, then shake with a desire to numb the pain and, for some teens, the cocktail leads to a beverage potent enough to end a life.

"One choice can end it, one drink," said Brandon Garlitz, a sophomore at Greencastle-Antrim High School (G-AHS).

With prom scheduled for Saturday, a group of students at the high school spent the past week empowering the school with messages of wellness they hope on prom night will make their peers think before reaching for an alcoholic drink.

For the last six years, the Peer Leaders at G-AHS have hosted Wellness Week to promote messages of health, sobriety, empowerment and hope before prom.

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A theme of "Finding Your Strength" ran through the week this year, said adviser Jennifer Everetts, a social studies teacher at G-AHS.

Among the Peer Leaders, the meaning of strength was just as diverse as the faces sitting around the library on a Thursday afternoon.

For sophomore Ema Bobbitt, her strength is her heart, she said.

It is not easy for Ema to talk about her brother, Kiel.

At age 19, Kiel drank enough alcohol to poison his body and cut short his life.

Despite the pain of Ema's loss, Kiel's story is well known in the halls of the school because of her desire to help others avoid his fate.

"It helps me and my family be at peace to share his story to help students make better decisions," she said. "It is what he would have wanted."

A lot of students at G-AHS knew Kiel so his story struck a deeper chord than an anonymous tale of a teenager lost to alcohol, said sophomore Caleb Bartlett, whose strength is friendship.

Because the pressure of school alone can be tiring, many of the activities during Wellness Week are designed to relieve stress, said Brandon, who defined his strength as charisma.

"I like to think of (the week) as going back to before the drama," he said.

Whether it was through face painting, making balloon animals, running obstacle courses, or having frank discussions of what defines themselves, the Peer Leaders made it clear that true wellness does not include drinking, 10th-grader Brooke Daley said.

"Students are realizing that their choices are a lot more impactful than they thought," she said. "I've had them come up to me and say, 'Wow! This will change my choices after prom.'"

It takes a modicum of courage to be a Peer Leader at G-AHS because of the responsibilities that come with the position, Everetts said.

That is why junior Jared Mowen finds his strength in his Christian faith.

"It's having something more than myself to look to for strength," he said of his faith. "There's not a lot in this world that gives us a great reason to make ourselves into what we are. Faith does that."

Shelby Smith, a sophomore with the strength of creativity, said the message of the week will culminate today when motivational speaker Jeff Yalden will talk to the entire student body.

"I think people will really listen to him," she said. "They have seen his show on MTV, which shows that you can do anything if you set your mind to it."

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