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Anti-drug program kicks off

New initiative focuses on sober high-school students

Posted: September 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The Valencia High School dance team, wearing DFYiT T-shirts perform for Valencia High students at the DFYiT anti-drug kickoff event held at Valencia High School on Friday.

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By Kirsten Quinn

For The Signal

Valencia High School students pledged drug-free lifestyles Friday during the Drug Free Youth in Town kickoff rally, part of the new drug-prevention and education program launching at William S. Hart Union High School District campuses this year.

Student body leaders and athletes encouraged their peers to participate as each club member pledged “I chose to be drug free” and passed the microphone across the outdoor stage.

Each campus hosts a lunchtime kickoff as the current school year begins with a city-funded rally featuring DJs and giveaways as students join the DFYiT (pronounced “defy-it”) Club.

“We have a lot of energy and a lot of dedicated teens ready to DFYiT!” Valencia teacher Joni Stiman said at Friday’s rally.

The free, voluntary, peer-based program is a collaborative effort between the city of Santa Clarita, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office and the Hart district.

Throughout the year, club members present anti-drug curriculum and guest speakers at club meetings, complete 10 hours of community service, attend leadership summits and plan student-led events and fundraisers.

With their parents, members sign contracts to participate in random drug tests, said the Hart district’s Kathy Hunter. The tests provide DFYiT members with an excuse to say “no” when peers offer drugs, Hunter said.

City and district officials and the Sheriff’s Station decided to introduce the new DFYiT program in Hart district schools after reviewing youth drug and alcohol statistics for last year. The district used to use the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, anti-drug program.

Last year, 191 district students were caught on campus under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Hunter said.

Within the first 10 days of this school year, which started Aug. 16, nine students were caught under the influence, Hunter said.

Marijuana, synthetic marijuana and alcohol, respectively, have been the most frequent cases of on-campus intoxication this year, Hunter said.

“We were never able to measure the effectiveness of (Drug Abuse Resistance Education),” Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry said of the previous anti-drug program. “We’ve got to do something different.”

“We finally came to the conclusion that we should be celebrating the students that aren’t drinking and driving,” Ferry said. “The concept of DFYiT is to bring the mass majority (of drug-free students) together,” Ferry said.

Less than 1 percent of Hart students are caught under the influence on campus, and DFYiT is a way to show kids that everyone isn’t doing it, Hunter said.

DFYiT aims to have students show other students that saying “no” to drugs is more ordinary than they think, Hunter said.

“You can still have fun in high school without doing drugs and alcohol,” said Charlie La Vine, DFYiT co-president and president of Viking Nation school spirit club. “We’re trying to save lives.”

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