New Boston Mayor Jim Warren on Wednesday hosted the annual village meeting with 11th- and 12th-grade students from New Boston Schools, to discuss the dangers of drinking and drug use.
The program started with the Bridge Builders, which Warren said ceased existence last year. He has decided to continue the program on his own.
“This is the third year I've sponsored this, and as long as I'm mayor, it will be a continuous program because I think it's very important these children understand. Prom night is a very serious thing,” Warren said.
This warning came to students near the time of New Boston's prom on Saturday - a time when teenage substance abuse typically increases.
“They're at a crossroads, especially for seniors at graduation time. They need to start thinking about their life and making proper decisions,” said New Boston High School Principal Melinda Burnside.
Warren treated the classes to lunch at Golden Corral, with speakers Daniel Cassidy of The Counseling Center, and Salem Jackson, of Brothers of the Wheel.
Jackson, an avid biker dressed in black leather, spoke to students about his unassuming past; completing his master's degree and working for IBM, and also his life today after retirement working with charity groups. He stressed IBM's slogan to students: “Think.”
“What I'm trying to teach the kids is that you can be cool, you can be a biker, you can do whatever you want to do, but do it with some kind of sense,” Jackson said.
Cassidy spoke in graphic detail about his own struggles with drug addiction on the streets of Los Angeles. He recounted frighteningly come-dic stories of his time on the streets and how he found his way back.
Cassidy said he's been sober now for 13 years.
Burnside said she appreciated the offering of two opposite views on the subject - one from the viewpoint of someone who has stayed off drugs and in control of his life, and another who lost control and fought his way out.
Warren also reminded the students of the penalties of underage drinking, drug use and driving under the influence. He warned that parents who host a drinking party for children, where they think they can keep them safer than they would be on the streets out of their control, can be arrested and can face fines, jail time and “lose everything they own.”
“I think we've been fortunate in New Boston. We haven't had, to my knowledge, serious things going on here,” Burnside said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.