Students get ‘drop dead’ serious |

Students get ‘drop dead’ serious

Teri Vance
Photos by Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealEagle Valley Middle School seventh-grader Haley Gray wipes away tears while talking about her friendships and how important it is to have someone you can count on. Students who were used in the "Drop Dead Day" event met to discuss reaching out to fellow students to build relationships as an alternative to turning to drugs.

During a routine science lesson at Eagle Valley Middle School on Friday, seventh-grader Kenzie Manke dropped to the floor.

One students rushed to call the nurse. The teacher ran to her aid.

“I was scared,” said classmate Kristian Hollaway, 12. “I didn’t know what happened.”

They soon found out that a student in each class “dropped dead” at the same time to demonstrate the consequences of drug abuse as part of the Addicted to Life campaign organized by Carson High School leadership students.

“Students can teach students better than adults can teach students,” explained Shradha Thokala, Carson High School’s student body public relations officer. “We hope that the shock for the students provides them with visual consequences so they know the effects of drug abuse.”

After the students fell to the ground, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. Carson High School leadership adviser Misty Harris told students it was a simulation to grab their attention to “prevent this from happening to you or someone you care about.”

She told them one in five teens misuse prescription drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stacee Cress, the leadership adviser at the middle school, said it was a good opportunity for the students to learn.

“They’re so much more impressionable at this age,” Cress said. “This is the age some people are maybe going to be peer pressuring them to try drugs. If we can get to them now maybe we can prevent abuse later.”

Students who “dropped dead” in class went throughout the rest of the day with their faces painted white and remained silent.

If spoken to, they handed out one of seven cards with facts about drug abuse on them, such as, “16.2 million Americans have used a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons. Don’t be one.”

Jody Ostrander, 14, leadership president at Eagle Valley Middle School, said it was an effective way to send the message.

“The students aren’t hearing teachers talk, talk, talk,” she said. “They’re seeing it.”

Savana Rogers, 13, received that message.

“I’ve had family members use heroin, and it really hit me,” she said. “That stuff really happens. It’s scary to think people we know will end up doing it.”

A similar “Drop Dead Day” was hosted at Carson High School on Tuesday to educate students and the community about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.

The high school’s campaign, Addicted to Life, centers on encouraging their peers to find things that excite them rather than focus on the negative behaviors they should avoid.

“We wanted to show the positive things life brought without (drugs) in your life,” said Lydia Lopez, freshman class vice president. “We’re not going to ruin it because of drugs. We’re addicted to life.”

Fact cards distributed as part of Drop Dead Day

• Pain killers and heroin are dangerously familiar. Using either can lead to you becoming an addict.

• Last year, more than 91,000 people used heroin for the first time.

• Every day, 2,500 teens use a prescription drug to get high for the first time.

• 3.8 million people have tried heroin at least once.

• 16.2 million Americans have used a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons.