Dec. 23 - Valley Central students join fight against substance abuse
Valley Central High School has a new weapon in the fight against substance abuse – a student-led coalition called VC DREAM (Valley Central Drug Resistance and Education for Adolescent Minds). The coalition, which was formed last school year, held a “kick-off” event on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Eighth and ninth grade students from the middle and high school gathered in the VCHS auditorium to watch the band Six Stories Told perform and to celebrate the formation of VC DREAM.
The coalition was formed in partnership with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Orange County, who had developed a prevention program based upon education, counseling and outreach to high-risk populations.
“The messages against substance abuse have gone on forever,” said VCHS Student Assistance Counselor James Hession, who serves as a co-leader for VC DREAM. “But, we thought a peer aspect would be much more effective, so we created a partnership to get students more involved.” Hession serves as a co-leader to VC DREAM.
Students were selected by guidance staff and teachers to join the coalition based upon their leadership qualities and outreach. The students bring a fresh and enthusiastic perspective to substance abuse prevention that helps inspire other students to make healthy choices, Hession said.
“I wanted to get involved because I wanted to make a difference,” VCHS student and VC DREAM member Dylan O’Neill said. “There have been a lot of drug overdoses, suicides and drug-related deaths in young people nationwide. We want to help reach the younger students b
efore they’re ever introduced to substance abuse. That way, we can prevent it before it starts.”
In addition to the kick-off party, the coalition hopes to host more events throughout the year, including a “Sober Night Out” to give students the opportunity to participate in activities without the presence of drugs or alcohol.
The band Six Stories Told was a well-fitting choice to play for the event. The band’s manager, Dwaine Harris is a recovering addict and discussed his personal battles with substance abuse while cautioning the students in the audience to avoid the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The members of the band have all pledged to make healthy decisions regarding substance abuse, and two of the bands’ members, Tyler McDermitt and Jesse Shepard, graduated from Valley Central High School.
“It was really nostalgic to come back to the school,” said McDermitt, who graduated in 2013. “There are a lot of things I wish I knew in high school and it feels good to be able to share the information I’ve learned since I graduated and to be a positive influence on these kids at a time when information can still reach and affect them.”