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Death-like students tell message

December 01, 2001|By KELLY GRANT

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Students at Calexico High School, working with the Imperial County Sheriff's Office, drove home a sobering fact Friday about the number of deaths among young people due to drugs and alcohol.

About 44 students dressed in black and wore gray makeup to appear death-like as they sported signs around their necks informing their peers of the myriad ways people can die as a result of drugs and alcohol.

Statistics show 5 percent of every school's population dies of drug- and alcohol- related causes before the age of 25, said Jerry Godsey of the Sheriff's Office crime prevention unit who, with Calexico High resource teacher Jane Sharp, organized the event.

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"We wanted to illustrate to these kids the toll drugs and alcohol take. It's a lot higher than anyone expects," Godsey said.

"Kids don't think they can die," he said.

The activity brought to light that even if a person doesn't use drugs or alcohol, he or she can still be the victim of someone who does through acts such as drunk driving.

Judging by some of the essays students had written about the subject and by comments she'd heard from other students on campus Friday, Sharp called the day a success.

"On the whole, it was a really valuable experience," she said.

Participating junior Ana Urzúa, 16, said several of her friends took note of the message she was spreading.

"They look at my sign and say ‘Oh, my God. Five percent is a lot,'" Ana said.

This was the first activity of its kind organized by the Sheriff's Office at a local school. Godsey said the Sheriff's Office is trying to find innovative ways to address subjects like drug and alcohol abuse in schools. They will be on Calexico High's campus about six or seven times this year at the school's request to give presentations about similar tough issues facing teens, Godsey said.

Activities such as the one at Calexico High on Friday are available to every high school in the Imperial Valley, Godsey said.

>> Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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