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  • Writer's pictureAlltold Staff

Students Making a Change?

Mishawaka High School’s (MHS) Students Making a Change (S.M.A.C.) is trying to make a difference in the community by educating students about drugs and/or alcohol use, and the harm these substances can inflict. The MHS S.M.A.C. group consists of 21 students and four sponsors. One of the main sponsors at MHS is Jennifer Fisher. Students from every grade level are involved with the great number of members being seniors.

Seniors Cassidy Challberg and Isaiah Evans are the most prominent members of the group. Challberg, president of the student council and second-year S.M.A.C. member said, “I joined S.M.A.C. because a lot of people, especially in high school, find drugs and alcohol to be the fun thing to do. I believe there are so many more important things in this world and you shouldn’t have to rely so heavily on drugs and alcohol for a good time.”

Students Making a Change have informed others about drugs and alcohol, but some think S.M.A.C. isn’t as effective as other programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) “D.A.R.E introduces students in elementary school with the ideas of drugs and what harm they can cause. I believe that efforts shouldn’t stop in elementary, and that they should continue through high school,” Fisher said.

A survey of MHS students concluded that some students believe that the S.M.A.C. program is less effective because some members were or still are involved with drugs and/or alcohol. MHS Junior Tyler Colborn said, “S.M.A.C. is hypocritical but doesn’t take away from the meaning.”

Fisher said, “We didn’t just want members that have never tried drugs. Having students who have had some personal experience with drugs and alcohol gives the student body a different message.” “No matter what we do, we can’t alter everyone’s actions. My hope is that with this group we can educate those who are involved and keep them safe,” said Challberg.

The S.M.A.C.program was founded by Margaret Goldsmith and Becky Savage. Goldsmith and Savage are both affiliated with the Alcohol & Addictions Resource Center. (AARC) Savage became affiliated with AARC after she lost two sons who attended Penn High School (PHS) to drugs and alcohol in 2016. “In 2016, AARC received a grant to begin a youth initiative,” Goldsmith said. The grant was given to AARC due to a survey that indicated that St. Joseph county lacked a substance education in middle and high schools. With that grant, the AARC founded a number of substance education programs in local high schools. MHS was one of the first to start a program. “All high schools in St. Joseph county were contacted to partner with AARC to provide this needed alcohol and drug awareness,” Goldsmith said. Currently four schools have a program.

The MHS S.M.A.C. group is in the process of organizing events for April, which is alcohol awareness month.

On March 29, The AllTold misidentified Becky Savage as a founder of MHS Students Making A Change. Savage was a guest speaker a 2017-2018 MHS S.M.A.C. school wide event. The AllTold sincerely apologizes for the mistake.

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