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John Jay Students Learn Impact of Substance Abuse

LEWISBORO, N.Y.  – John Jay Middle School students and faculty were treated last week to a powerfully moving theatrical performance that depicted the consequences of substance abuse.

The production, entitled “Halfway There,” was sponsored by Family University and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and the efforts of community and parent volunteers, administrators and faculty members. The Periwinkle Theatre for Youth (PTY), an award-winning arts-in-education company that creates and produces original, inspirational plays based on today’s social issues, presented the hour-long realistic drama, which incorporated music, humor, dance, and poetry.

The storyline, based on the real lives of five students who had succumbed to substance abuse and were attempting to rise above it, revolves around the personal downfalls and triumphs the teens faced as they explored the causes and ramifications of their addictions. Students in the audience were encouraged to look below the surface and develop empathy for those involved in the struggle against drug and alcohol abuse. They were also asked to apply critical thinking to issues such as drug and alcohol use, peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, and accountability.

Under the leadership of directors and producers Joe Naples and William Gilmore, the cast delved into typical adolescent feelings, including temptation, fear, loneliness, helplessness, sadness, guilt, anger, and loss of self-esteem, as well as situational adversity including abuse, parental alcoholism, and gang involvement. They demonstrated how people can take back their lives and “forgive the past but not forget it,” and stressed the importance of strength of character, forgiveness and trust in self.

Following the performance, the cast and students participated in a question-and-answer period.

Principal Richard Leprine said he was pleased with the program. “The students were engaged and the show had impact,” he said. “Based on feedback, they are learning about good decision-making. If they begin thinking about these decisions now, it will help them down the road.”

Any students who wished to further discuss their feelings after attending the performance were encouraged to speak with school social worker Jessica Fulton. For more information concerning the performance, visit www.periwinkle.org or www.klfamilyuniversity.org .

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