You are tired of hearing about drugs, and for good reason. The sphere of the average Rockhurst student’s life is constantly flooded with information regarding drugs and alcohol. Our school’s implementation of a health and wellness policy that encompasses regular drug and alcohol testing has forced the issue into the spotlight and has only intensified the barrage of information. We are buried in rumors from peers, in statistics from parents and in cautionary tales from adults.
Rarely are we made to understand the implication inherent in all of the information that is thrown at us; we are in control. The decisions are ours to make.
The Rockhurst student body was reminded of this overlooked reality Wednesday afternoon in a talk given by Mr. Robert Stutman, a retired DEA agent. Mr. Stutman addressed the school as a whole regarding drug and alcohol abuse—a topic that few students were eager to hear more about. Mr. Stutman’s talk, however, was more than anticipated.
As students, most of us have experienced the typical drug abuse lecture. Key components include graphic scare tactics, seemingly outlandish statistics and often an appeal to our high school ambition. What we experienced with Mr. Stutman was a refreshing change of pace to us here at the Prep News.
With an approach founded on first-hand experience and undeniable credibility, Mr. Stutman established a degree of trust with the students. His arguments were grounded in fact (if you don’t believe him, Google it) and were presented in a “take it or leave it” demeanor. At no point did we feel that he was imposing his thoughts on us.
In addition to a credible presentation of facts, Mr. Stutman succeeded in engaging students. It’s true, the fact that he knows Denzel Washington is fairly irrelevant. But the stories about Heath Ledger and the Kennedys were interesting. They made us want to listen. They will stick with us. And imagine how difficult it is to have a genuine impact on a high school audience with a presentation about the dangers of drugs.
Mr. Stutman was blunt and honest—two things that we, as students, value. There is something appealing about an adult who does not tell us what to do or how to think. Mr. Stutman said “shouldn’t” in a world where all we hear is “can’t.” He did not tell us that we cannot experiment with drugs. He did not threaten to discipline or test us. He empowered us with education and equipped us with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions for ourselves.
Rockhurst’s decision to feature Mr. Stutman fulfilled an element of health and wellness separate from the testing; it established an educational dimension. The talk was not necessarily a preventative measure. It was a successful effort to form a more conscious student body, a student body that is capable of recognizing and making intelligent decisions.
The Prep News staff is of the opinion that Mr. Stutman’s talk and subsequent small-group sessions were a positive step in Rockhurst’s continued fine-tuning of the recently established health and wellness program. We hope that the school and its students understand Mr. Stutman’s message—we are in control of the decisions we make, and our decisions bear weight. Drug testing cannot define us. Discipline cannot define us. Decisions can and do define us, and in each circumstance we encounter, there is an opportunity for growth. And if you don’t believe me, Google it.