By Wayne Gates –
Eastern Middle School students heard an anti-drug message from two community leaders on Jan. 12.
Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force Commander Justin Conley and Brown County Prosecutor Zac Corbin both talked to about 300 students about the drug problem and life choices.
Conley and Corbin both shared personal stories with the students about some of the challenges of growing up in the sixth through the eighth grades.
Following the assembly, both men said that middle school is a crucial time in the life of a young person.
“This gives us an opportunity to talk to kids before they make the decisions that we deal with as law enforcement officers. This is one of the easiest places to reach kids, give them positive examples and something to look forward to and give them a reminder why it’s important for them to stay away from narcotics and alcohol,” said Conley.
He added that he especially enjoyed speaking at Eastern.
“This is the school district where I graduated from. So being able to come back and be able to tell kids that if they make the right decisions and continue to improve, they can reach the goals they set for themselves. That’s important to me.”
Corbin also said he enjoyed the experience.
“Whenever you can come in and talk to an exciting an energetic group of kids and give them little nuggets of hope and inspiration, it’s why we do what we do. It was great,” he said.
Corbin used the lines on the gym floor as an analogy for the path of life that the kids will be following.
“The line is an analogy of the rest of their life. We know this because we are older, but when you think about where you want to be when you are young, it’s not going to be a straight line. There are going to be bumps in the road. But, the key is to just keep moving foward to reach that goal.”
Corbin told the kids that they were at the beginning of the line and they had a lot of choices ahead of them.
“There are going to be decisions that they are going to have to make that will impact their future. That’s the reason we do this, is to prevent as many kids as possible from making those decisions that will prevent them from reaching their goals,” he said.
EMS Principal Justin Michel said he appreciated Corbin and Conley taking the time to talk to students.
“The middle school age is so crucial. That’s why I love it and I think that all the teachers here love it because it’s such a special age. It is a cornerstone of what the students are building in school,” he said.
“They can take so many directions from here and we feel this is a crucial time where we can help point them in the direction where they can be a productive citizen.”
Conley said that he hopes the message will stick with the kids once they leave the gym.
“Hopefully what we talked about today will resonate back home and get conversations started between students and their parents,” he said.