Dear Youth of Norwood and Surrounding Areas, I am so sorry for your loss this past weekend. Gabe was a great guy, one of my favorite kids, and I can’t imagine him not being here. My heart also goes out to my dear, sweet Natalie who is going through so much, is in so much pain, and has a long road of recovery ahead of her. I pray that Skyler and his family will find their way through this difficult time, and that he will heal rapidly.
Most of you guys know me because of the cars, through the Petersen girls, or because of my subbing at the school. I sub for the simple reason of being able to get to know all of you, to listen to your dreams, to support you in whatever way I can, to laugh with you, and to cheer all of you on in whatever way I can. My hope is that you will see what I see in you, realize all of the possibilities within you, and go on to live rich and fulfilling lives. You guys are my inspiration, and you all bring me such joy every time I sub at the school. Today I want to cheer you on in a different way; through a challenge to all of you.
We all know about the parties in the woods. In fact, they are a tradition in this county. However, the side effects from these parties are killing us all within. Of course, I want to say…no I want to scream, “Please stop drinking and having these parties! I don’t want to see anyone else get hurt!” I remember those days though, and I know that probably won’t happen. However, with what happened to Gabe and Jessica, I want you all to consider something that can be done to honor their lives.
If I were to sit down and create a program against drunk driving or the parties, I don’t think it would have much effect. It would be an adult creating another program that no kid takes too seriously. What if you guys, the students and those who recently graduated, create something of your own? What if you all put those beautiful, intelligent, and amazingly creative heads of yours together to create some sort of program that tries to create a safety net to prevent something like this from happening? Something created by the students for the students? Maybe there could always be designated drivers at the parties, and when kids show up for these parties, all of the keys get taken away at the start… Maybe you guys could create an alcohol education program of your own that talks about Gabe and Jessica, about the dangers of drinking and what you all are going through right now. Unfortunately, you all are learning how real this all is and how drinking and driving can seriously hurt and kill those we love. What you have to say can change someone’s life, can change their minds, and maybe help the future party attendees realize that there are a lot of other things that they can choose to do…that they can make a different choice. Maybe a student talking to a student could convince a student to not drink at all. Maybe the best way to honor the lives of Gabe and Jessica is to create something that will save someone else’s life today or tomorrow.
Like I said I think it needs to be created by all of you, but if you need adults to support any part of it, just ask. I will be your first volunteer. I know that there are teachers and parents that would be willing to support you guys. All you have to do is tell us what you need and ask.
My heart goes out to all of the families. I don’t even know how to express what I am feeling for all of you. I am so sorry.
Remember, peer pressure can work for the good or work for the destructive. It’s all about choice.
–Marie Fouche, Artist and Substitute Teacher