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Editorial: Easthampton High’s prevention message turns a bad into good

  • Easthampton High School students Alexandra Chapman, 14, top and Courtney Urban, 15, bottom, sign a pledge wall in the cafeteria on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The wall is part of Prevention Awareness Week, featuring many activities focused on making the right choices. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Easthampton High School students Alexandra Chapman, 14, top and Courtney Urban, 15, bottom, sign a pledge wall in the cafeteria on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The wall is part of Prevention Awareness Week, featuring many activities focused on making the right choices.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A detail from Easthampton High School's pledge wall is shown on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The wall is part of Prevention Awareness Week, featuring many activities focused on making the right choices. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A detail from Easthampton High School's pledge wall is shown on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The wall is part of Prevention Awareness Week, featuring many activities focused on making the right choices.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton High School students Alexandra Chapman, 14, top and Courtney Urban, 15, bottom, sign a pledge wall in the cafeteria on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The wall is part of Prevention Awareness Week, featuring many activities focused on making the right choices. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A detail from Easthampton High School's pledge wall is shown on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The wall is part of Prevention Awareness Week, featuring many activities focused on making the right choices. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

The phrase “out of the bad comes good” rang true at Easthampton High School last month. First, the bad. Just a month ago, the school’s popular vice principal, Ann Beauregard, allegedly did something many parents urge their children never to do. She now faces drunken driving charges.

Now, the good.

In the wake of Beauregard’s arrest, high school leaders didn’t sweep the incident under the rug. They addressed it head-on by reaching out to students at the close-knit school to get their thoughts on how to glean positives from this negative incident.

That little bit of nudging is all the students needed to create, organize and pull off one of the best prevention messages we’ve heard of in some time.

Kudos to those student leaders who made the school’s Prevention Awareness Week a hit. It would have been easier to gossip between classes and wonder what happened to one of their favorite administrators — then move on to the next class, the next practice or the next Friday night.

Instead, the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions group went to work lining up speakers, experts and fellow students for a unique weeklong event intended to spread the “make-good-decisions” message in a way their classmates wouldn’t forget.

Double kudos to the administration, teachers and other staff who not only supported the effort but actively encouraged it. It would have been easy for high school leaders to ignore Beauregard’s arrest while her case works its way through the court system.

But students aren’t dumb. Looking the other way would have been hypocritical given the amount of effort that goes into trying to help teens make the right choices when it comes to alcohol and drugs. It’s also good to hear that administrators also thought enough of the student-driven initiative to block off valuable class time so that classmates in every grade level got the message.

Students’ respect for Beauregard, despite her arrest, moved them to turn bad into good.

By all accounts, the familiar messages delivered in a refreshing way hit home. The week featured more than simple pamphlets and “don’t-do-this” talks from school resource officers and other adults. It included concrete intervention tips and testimonials that students could use in a real-life situations, as well as speeches from fellow students and EHS graduates, interactive role-playing, workshops, a pledge wall and other hands-on activities.

We hope other schools can learn from Easthampton High’s effort. Whether a whole week is devoted to the message or an afternoon, students might just be the key to turning a bad situation into good.

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