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Published on June 2nd, 2017 | by Tessa Jackson

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Samo institutes new drug-awareness seminar in place of “Drug Free World” presentation

After the cancellation of the Drug Free World presentations, Samo principal Dr. Antonio Shelton announced the implementation of a new program for the two remaining lectures, replacing those scheduled on May 17 and 24.  This change was brought about largely due to communal anger over the group’s sponsorship by the Church of Scientology. The group originally reached out to Shelton, advertising that their services were free.  

The new presentations used the speakers and slide-show of the parent education meeting held by Samo on May 9. The group includes SMMUSD coordinator of mental health and counseling Shuli Lotan, school resource SMPD officer Beatriz Gutierrez, psychiatrist and Samo alumni Dr. Emily DeFraites, Drug and Alcohol Prevention Manager with the CLARE Foundation Shawn Davis, as well as Youth and Family Services Coordinator with SMPD Ana Jara.

Lotan helped arrange the PTSA meeting with the information used for the student seminars. Her main goal in the presentation was to educate students on the effects and dangers of drugs.

“I would say our main goal is to make sure students have the factual information so that they can make informed decisions about what they’re going to do around substances,” Lotan said. “We know that there’s plenty of availability and access, so we just want to make sure kids have good information.”

The new presentations shift from sharing personal stories with drugs and alcohol to statistics and factual evidence on their effects. Some students found this method more effective, while others found it to be more boring.

“It was basically just building on what I already knew,” Sky Hodel (’19) said. “It was kind of a waste of time because we already knew a lot of the information that was given. The only thing that was good was the they showed the before and after affects of drugs.”

The SMMUSD led presentations have also concluded at this point.  There is no word on whether these presentations will be annual or be replaced by an alternate foundation.

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