Leading by Example

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The district-wide Recovery Awareness and Prevention (RAP) campaign was held during the week of Oct. 22. The campaign, ran primarily by the Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DATF), focused mainly on the high school, where these issues are most prevalent.

“We understand this is a big issue to tackle, but making a difference starts with changing even one student’s life,” said Mr. Anthony Ferrandino, Northport High School’s Drug and Alcohol counselor. Mr. Ferrandino is also the co-chair of the district’s DATF.

Throughout the week, students heard from a wide variety of speakers covering topics centered around addiction and recovery — teens sharing their own stories, police officers, counselors specializing in addiction and more. On Oct. 26, the week culminated with activities in the commons ran by student volunteers who are passionate about keeping their peers substance-free. Many of them were members of the DATF’s youth coalition, 1Life. The event was buzzing with people traveling from table to table, participating in activities such as answering questions about substance abuse, facts about vaping, creating purple ribbons for drug awareness, receiving a “Where to Go for Help” resource list and more.

“Campaigns led by students often move other students to action,” said NHS health teacher Mrs. Diane Vitale. “In class, we’ve taught them skills to use in tough situations that will eventually arise, and what to do when they’re put in an environment they’re not comfortable with, but there’s nothing quite like students leading by example.”

Each year, this week-long campaign is so worth all the collaborative effort, according to those who volunteer and are passionate about the cause.

“It’s a trickle-down effect,” said Mr. Ferrandino. “After this week, we may have five students that come to use for help, but that’s five lives saved; five students who may someday end up sharing their story, and helping spread awareness of the dangers of substance abuse.”