Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jan 2005
Source: Bennington Banner (VT)
Copyright: 2005 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and NENI Newspapers
Author: Jessica York, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Youth)


HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- Shaping an overflowing supply of ideas into two 
25-second videos will be one of the goals for members of the high school's 
Youth Summit Team this year.

Completing the video public service announcements in little more than a 
month's time is only one of this volunteer group's plans for the rest of 
the school year, though.

Based around a Rensselaer County-wide initiative for the past three years, 
the Hoosick Falls Central High School group is now connected with the 
former Communities that Care group (now Hoosick Area Partnership for 
Parents and Youth) and is in its third year.

On Monday night, the group held one of its longest organized meetings at 
the municipal building to really dig in with event planning that would make 
community members - young and old - aware of the dangers of underage 
drinking and drug use. Typically, the 15-member group has to steal 
15-minute meetings at the beginning of school to meet, never able to make 
major progress.

"This is way better than Friday morning meetings," said one student. "We 
should do it here more often."

For two hours, the group of 12 worked on ideas for three major ventures 
over pizza donated by the Lions Club and drinks supplied by Dave and Doug 
Harrison. The first includes entering a county public service announcement 
competition with a due date of March 1. The second would be a mock 
driving-while-intoxicated arrest and court processing video in time for a 
county summit, and the third would be an idea borrowed from Troy's high 
school - making a short movie out of interviewing elementary school 
children for their suggestions for things high school students could do 
with their free time other than drinking.

Davis is in discussions with CAT-TV to train the students on camera use for 
the videos. She also discussed plans to bring a youth court to the 
community, and hopes members of the group could be part of the court.

At one point, Maryann Strauss, the group's adviser, joked with the boys 
about getting to work, saying, "You thought you were just going to come 
here and eat?"

The teenagers then broke up into two groups to plan their own videos - one 
targeting teens themselves, and the other targeting teens' parents.

Strauss thought one idea she overheard had some real merit. It would show 
that it's not that parents are not aware of underage drinking, it is that 
they are not aware of the consequences, such as being held responsible for 
an underage drinking party going on at their homes or that they turn a 
blind eye because they do not know how to combat the issue.

While 60 percent of students who filled out a community questionnaire 
thought that youths have a problem with underage drinking and drug use, 
only 30 percent of parents felt the same way, said Davis, making a point 
for targeting parents in the video skits.

The group working on targeting youths themselves, especially those who have 
not yet tried alcohol, suggested a theme of "the first time might be your 
last time."

Discussions over how to re-enact a mock DWI stop caused much excitement for 
the group, especially as they discussed who would play which part. Four of 
the group members volunteered to be the person receiving the citation.

Strauss suggested that this video may be put out in the community at large. 
One group member suggested maybe bars could play it, since they have 
multiple television sets.

"This has been a really good meeting," Strauss said, ending the night. "I'm 
pleased that you showed up."

Rensselaer County's Youth Summit: Youth Taking Action Against Underage 
Drinking holds two conferences a year as part of our ongoing program to 
deter instances of alcohol and drug use. A $100,000 Drug-Free Communities 
Grant obtained by the County's Underage Drinking Coalition from the U.S. 
Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has been the 
funding source for the program in recent years.
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