Members of East Islip High School’s SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club visited the classroom of middle school health teacher Chris Padgur last month to give their annual Tolerance Week presentation on peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and self-image.
SADD adviser Bridget Lopiccolo explained that the program was originally the product of brainstorming with Padgur, in which they agreed that middle school students benefit from hearing positive messages from upperclassmen in the high school. Seven years ago, Lopiccolo saw an opportunity to apply for a $300 grant from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for a DVD presentation program for middle schoolers. She applied for the grant and won, taking the program to her students in SADD for possible presentation to seventh-graders during Tolerance Week. Together, Lopiccolo and the SADD members discussed the relevant issues in the middle school and came up with dialogue to accompany the DVD program. They also decided to dispense prizes and tokens with positive messages such as pens, pencils and lollipops to remind the middle school kids about the program. This open dialogue between high school students from SADD and seventh-graders in middle school health classes proved to be a success, and students from SADD now are given the yearly opportunity to sign up to visit the middle school during Tolerance Week and present the program.
This year, SADD Vice President Jonathan Gutierrez led the Feb. 16 presentation while SADD President Maggie McGrath handled the task at the Feb. 15 presentation, both joined by other SADD students. Padgur was pleased again, saying “SADD did a great job, as usual.”
“SADD is a club that really helps the whole district,” said Lopiccolo. “It is never too early to steer our students in the right direction, and SADD sends the message that it is cool to be drug-free. The high school students and the middle school students really get so much out of this program. It gives the seventh-graders the opportunity to ask questions about the high school and peer pressure. Another benefit is that middle school students feel comfortable with SADD and end up knowing a couple of people in the high school before they get there. Letting the high school students be the ‘teachers’ for the day is a great opportunity for students to learn from other students how to be good people and make positive choices.”