Freshman Forum will warn of substance abuse

Panelists to educate parents, students of dangers

Shannon Ahearn, Staff Writer

In efforts to bring attention to the dangers of substance abuse, the school has invited its present and future students to the annual Freshman Forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in the auditorium.

“[The forum] started because we have, over the years, had such an increase in substance and alcohol abuse,” Jennifer Ondek, a freshman counselor, said. “We wanted to have an opportunity for people to come and educate our youth, especially our freshman students.”

Much like previous years, the forum — titled “Danbury Youth Matter: Understanding Drugs, Stress, and the Law — will include a panel of speakers who have had personal experiences with drug and alcohol abuse, including a doctor from Yale, a parent, a therapist, and a student.

Apart from trying to reach students, the organizers encourage parents to attend the forum. Silvia Borges-Bostic explains: “[The speakers] will be coming to talk about stress reduction and things to do with your children, as a parent, in order to reduce stress.”

New research on the brain has discovered that stress has similar effects to addictive drugs. Additionally, stress resulting from school-related activities is directly linked to a higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse.

A new addition to this year’s panel is a student who attends DHS. “[The student] will be talking about stressors and why kids get involved in drugs to begin with,” Borges-Bostic continued.

Alongside the forum, there will also be a club and class fair. Although incentives are encouraging freshmen to attend in order to win a pizza party, the organizers welcome all.

Dr. Diana Galletta-Bruno, school psychologist, verifies, “Anyone can come and all are welcome; however, the incentives are for freshmen only.”