by Jonathan Weaver
13-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald is still a few years away from driving, but already got a free lesson she won’t soon forget.
During yesterday’s seminar in the Armstrong Junior High eighth-grader’s health class, Fitzgerald wore a pair of green-tinted goggles that distorted her perception of how far away things were or of color.
So, naturally when a student 10 feet away tried to throw her a rubber ball, Fitzgerald missed. She predicted the glasses would distort her ability to march with the junior high band or cheer for the school’s sports teams as well.
“Very much,” Fitzgerald laughed.
Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission Prevention Specialist Courtney Hankinson emphasized her lesson one step further.
“Imagine if she was driving,” Hankinson said.
Hankinson’s lesson to Health 8 and Physical Education Teacher Stacy Gladysiewski Klukan’s 95 students aimed to steer students away from marijuana use.
And, Klukan said the “Too Good for Drugs and Violence” curriculum Hankinson has taught the past few months is working.
“Sometimes, (student reactions) are very positive, (showing that) they learned a lot; that they understand more about alcohol and drug problems. Her program is very effective,” Klukan said.
Hankinson, a prevention specialist for more than 10 years, has also had students ask more questions than what was involved in the original curriculum.
“You see that connection at times, which is nice,” Hankinson said.
Beyond the anti-drug messages, Hankinson added the lessons are also to promote goal setting, conflict resolution and decision-making in the teens.
“When they get to that chance where (students) have to make a decision about whether they’ll use drugs or not, hopefully they remember these things that we’ve done,” Hankinson said.
Hankinson, who also teaches the program at West Shamokin Junior/Senior High and Leechburg Area High, will return to Klukan’s class next month to discuss heroin and prescription drugs.