The Hatters' Herald

Forum speakers warn freshmen of substance dangers

Freshman+Isaac+Pereira+talks+with+9th-grade+counselor+Jennifer+Ondek+on+his+way+into+this+year%27s+Freshman+Forum.
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Forum speakers warn freshmen of substance dangers

Freshman Isaac Pereira talks with 9th-grade counselor Jennifer Ondek on his way into this year's Freshman Forum.

Freshman Isaac Pereira talks with 9th-grade counselor Jennifer Ondek on his way into this year's Freshman Forum.

Izabelle Preudhomme

Freshman Isaac Pereira talks with 9th-grade counselor Jennifer Ondek on his way into this year's Freshman Forum.

Izabelle Preudhomme

Izabelle Preudhomme

Freshman Isaac Pereira talks with 9th-grade counselor Jennifer Ondek on his way into this year's Freshman Forum.

Izabelle Preudhomme, Staff Writer

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Falling into the path of addiction is hard but it’s also difficult making a full recovery.

Max Dolan, a Danbury resident who is going through the process of a long-term recovery, shared his story of addiction and recovery at the annual Freshman Forum on Oct. 29.

The forum is held every year for freshmen, their parents and guardians to inform them of the dangers of teen substance abuse and services available in the community.

Dolan encouraged teens in the audience to join a community such as the Midwestern Connecticut Council on Alcoholism Inc. to help recover from an addiction. The council, according to its website, is the “primary provider of substance abuse prevention, evaluation and treatment services in the greater Danbury area.”

The forum was sponsored by MCCA and Stand Together Make a Difference, or STMAD, which, according to its website, has as its mission to “promote healthy life choices through a collaborative community effort.”

Every fall the school invites freshmen and their parents to a forum that educates them about substance abuse.

“We want students to know the dangers — not just the immediate dangers, but longterm,” said freshman counselor Jennifer Ondek, one of the event organizers. “We want to educate freshman about the dangers of drugs so that if they are ever put in the situation where a substance is offered, they are educated on what decision to make.”

The forum also provided information on the dangers of vaping — the latest craze to grab a teen’s attention. Different versions of the electronic cigarette devices accommodate not only nicotine but THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.

Lori Miller, safety advocate, described vaping at the high school as “really bad.” Students caught are assigned two days in ISS. If they spend the first day, however, researching the dangers of vaping and writing an essay for Principal Dan Donovan, he will consider reducing the ISS assignment to one day.

“Vaping has gotten to the point here that we really felt that we needed to host this event,” and provide information to students and parents, Ondek said.

Dr. Karen Santucci of Yale University also spoke, informing the audience about a teen’s brain and the fact that it’s still maturing until at least the age of 21. She offered examples of how alcohol affects a teen brain, saying “being under the influence of liquor can cause their bodies to react in alarming ways.”

Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour explained the state’s laws regarding drug use and possession, and the consequences if a juvenile is caught using or selling.

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Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800
Forum speakers warn freshmen of substance dangers