“What scares you?” was the question asked to an auditorium of Santa Fe High School students Friday.
Reggie Whitten, an Oklahoma City attorney and co-founder of the Whitten-Newman Foundation to combat drug and alcohol addiction, spoke to Santa Fe students enrolled in extra-curricular activities, who will be subject to drug testing due to a school board policy beginning this year.
Whitten said most people would be more afraid of a shark than of a toaster, but only six deaths were reported due to shark attacks last year — fewer deaths than were attributed to kitchen fires.
Pointing out that sometimes what may seem safe in reality is not, Whitten shared the story of his son Brandon’s life and death and how his son’s addiction became Whitten’s own lifelong mission.
Brandon was 25, the All-American student, an athlete and a leader.
Brandon had been in two traffic accidents. The first one killed his girlfriend, and the second one killed him. Both times drugs and alcohol were involved.
Whitten pointed out there are reasons to sacrifice one’s life whether it be for country or for a good cause, but sacrificing one’s life due to drug abuse whether it be caused by alcohol, prescription drugs or street drugs is not acceptable and is totally unnecessary.
“No one ever told me I couldn’t stop,” Brandon had said.
Whitten said a question that some might ask is, “Why couldn’t Brandon stop?
“The answer was he had become an addict and his brain chemistry was changed forever,” Whitten said. “Scientists know how this works. Twenty percent of the population is built differently and will react in a different way when using drugs.”
Oklahoma spends $1.4 billion each year in direct costs caused by substance abuse, Whitten said. “The majority of those costs are related to safety and security issues (i.e., prisons, jails, prosecution), and the contribution of substance abuse to domestic violence/sexual assault and resulting child abuse and neglect. The overall negative economic impact on the state from substance abuse is estimated to be between $4 billion and $5 billion a year.
“The real and tragic cost is measured in human lives ruined or ended by alcohol and other drugs.”
Whitten said drug abuse contributes to a large percentage of homicides, divorces and the incarceration rate, and that a large percentage of illegal drugs come from terrorist groups.
Whitten has had the opportunity to travel to Africa with Pros for Africa.
During a video presentation, former University of Oklahoma All-American and New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Loftin said, “Every decision you make affects your future.”
Whitten added every school has the same problems with drugs.
One time drunk equals 14 days lost in training time, Whitten said, and marijuana impairs short-term memory, perception, judgment and motor skills.
“Studies show marijuana use is six times more likely to cause psychosis,” he added. “The choices you make will determine your fate.”
Senior Zak Kerbo said, “I think this assembly was very informative for those students who don’t know what addiction can do to them. I am a huge OU fan and I was interested in hearing about Pros for Africa.”
Whitten founded Fighting Addiction Through Education, or F.A.T.E., an organization dedicated to educating people in Oklahoma about substance abuse and drug addiction.
Whitten knows he can’t go back but must go on each day.
“Now, I just know — this is my fate,” he said. “This is my fate to try to get the word out. This is my fate to do this as long as I live.”
Edmond Santa Fe principal Jason Hayes said, “I think this was an excellent message for the students to hear. Mr. Whitten had a story to tell that hopefully the students will think about.”
NEW DRUG TESTING POLICY IN PLACE
The assembly was the introduction to the new drug testing program for Edmond students adopted by school board members Nov. 1 and put into effect Jan. 7.
The drug policy passed by board members states the participation in athletics and extra-curricular activities is a privilege, and the district is committed to being proactive in ensuring the safety of all students and sees drug testing as being part of a supportive program.
This program is one of many the district will be sponsoring throughout the year as it emphasizes that drug usage brings harm as well as a high.
“As part of a comprehensive effort to reduce the number of incidents of drug use and abuse by our students, we will continue to look for programs, such as Fighting Addiction Through Education (F.A.T.E.), that will assist us in educating our students about the harmful effects of drug use as well as the danger of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction,” said Jason Brown, executive director of secondary education. “Programs like F.A.T.E. appeal to our students because they involve notable personalities and use language students can relate to. Our goal is to continue to be proactive in bringing similar high-quality educational programs to our schools.”
FOR MORE information about Brandon’s life or to learn more about F.A.T.E., go online to ChangeYourFate.org.
“What scares you?” was the question asked to an auditorium of Santa Fe High School students Friday.
Officials say repeal of Common Core ‘unlikely’
Despite continued opposition to new public-school standards, Oklahoma education officials say they are more confident than they were earlier this year that the standards will be fully implemented.
Theatre receives OKC Community Foundation Grant
The Oklahoma Children’s Theatre is proud to announce that it has been awarded a grant in the sum of $10,000 from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for its Page to Stage program, a traveling, workshop series for underserved schools.
New 2014 GED program website and registration launches
GED Testing Service announced that registration and new cutting-edge resources to help prepare for the 2014 GED test are now available with the launch of the organization’s new MyGED website. MyGED — which can be found online at GED.com — is a free site that will help adults register for, take and be better prepared for the GED test. Beyond the basics of testing, it will help students identify career pathways, and more easily navigate to jobs and into college training programs required for most of today’s job openings.
Edmond school board OKs replacement, renovation at three local school sites
Edmond Board of Education members passed a number of items concerning funds for replacement or renovation at local schools Monday.
UCO names fall 2013 class marshals
The University of Central Oklahoma has named five students as class marshals of their respective colleges, recognizing them for their academic excellence during Central’s fall 2013 commencement ceremonies Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 at the university’s Hamilton Field House. UCO will have a live streaming video of the ceremonies at its website, www.uco.edu.
2 candidates file for Edmond School Board seat
Filing for local school districts’ school board positions ended at 5 p.m. Wednesday with seven candidates filing for five positions. The election will be held Feb. 11.
Candidates for Deer Creek Office 4 Seat and Guthrie Seat No. 3 are running unopposed, while Guthrie Seat No. 4 has two candidates filing as does the Oakdale Seat No. 1.
Cynthia Benson filed for Edmond Seat No. 4 Seat against Stephanie Bills. Bills was appointed by the sitting school board members to fill a position left open when board member George Cohlmia resigned so his daughter could apply for a job in the district.
Santa Fe High School showcases play Thursday, Friday
Senior Lane Jinkins portraying Mr. Marmalade in the Santa Fe High School play by the same name, tries an imaginary pair of shoes on 4-year-old Lucy, played by senior Jessica Tang. Santa Fe High School drama students are presenting "Mr. Marmalade," this weekend. A dark comedy, the play is a story telling how Lucy deals with abusive behavior through cast members portraying imaginary friends and relatives. Students will be performing the play at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Edmond district checking employees for criminal misdeeds
Edmond Board of Education members voted to accept the single reading of changes for two board policies, both dealing with school employees.
Executive Director of Human Resources Randy Decker presented board members with Policy #2240, Criminal Record Questionnaire, Employee Annual and Policy #2120 dealing with Benefits, Administrator and Professional Non-Bargaining Employees at Monday’s regular monthly meeting.
Decker told board members Policy #2240 deals with a criminal record check initiated in order to be sure nothing shows up as an offense on the record of administrators, teachers and support personnel.
Additional candidate files for Oakdale School Board position
Filing for area school board seats will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Candidates may file at the Oklahoma County Election Board, 4201 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City. There is no filing fee.
Seats up for grabs in the Feb. 11 election include the Edmond School Board District No. 4 seat, Deer Creek School Board Office 4 seat, Guthrie Seat No. 3 and Seat No. 4 and Oakdale Public School District No. 1 seat. If needed, a run-off election will be April 1.
Oakdale incumbent Kelli Walsh filed for Seat No. 1 Tuesday joining J. David Walsh who filed Monday.
Monday Stephanie Bills filed for the Edmond No. 4 seat while Deer Creek incumbent Danny Barnes filed for the Deer Creek Office 4 Seat and incumbent S. Janna Pierson filed for Guthrie Seat No. 3. Guthrie School Board Seat No. 4 is currently filled by Orville Cornelius but is also up for election.
To be eligible for Edmond’s District 4 seat, a candidate must live in the district, be a registered voter in the district, have a high school diploma or equivalency and not be employed by the district or have immediate family members employed by the district. The same criteria apply for the Deer Creek seat.
UCO Department of Design exhibit features work of freshmen
The University of Central Oklahoma Department of Design will open “Habitat: Designs of Dwelling Spaces for Animals,” an exhibit featuring the interior design work of current UCO freshmen, with a free, open-to-the-public reception from 4-5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 in the Melton Gallery in the Art and Design building on Central’s campus. The reception will include light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.
“In the beginning of the fall semester, each student was randomly assigned a client, which so happened to be an animal of various size and type,” explained assistant professor of design Kevin Steiner.
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