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After 2011 athlete violations, SM East steps up assault on alcohol use
Alcohol and drug prevention are high on the radar screen at SM East this school year. After a significant number of violations of the school’s contract for athletes during the last school year, East Principal Dr. Karl Krawitz wants to see a change in the culture and a conversation started in the homes about student alcohol use.
Last year 60 SM East athletes violated the no-alcohol contract. That was a significant spike and more than all the other Shawnee Mission high schools combined, he told a PTA audience earlier this month.
“What I’m worried about is keeping your kids alive,” Krawitz told the parents. “It’s getting ugly. And it’s everybody, not just athletes.”
This year the school incorporated a national program called “AlcoholEdu” into its health curriculum to get in front of freshman and try to turn the tide on alcohol use. Sue Matson, prevention coordinator with the Regional Prevention Center in Johnson County, also has been involved in the school’s efforts. A video and panel presentation on underage drinking were held for fall athletes by the center and Matson also spoke to PTA parents about creating strategies to curb the teen drinking at East.
She says that in surveys East students reported alcohol use is similar to other schools, but she understands the concern about the spike in numbers from last year. The issues at East are not unique, but each school community needs to come up with a strategy that works for it and she was challenging East parents to work on that strategy. The Prevention Center can customize its support to a school.
Surveys at high schools show that by 12th grade 70 percent of students will have used alcohol at least one time. “I’m not so sure if you leave it to us (at the school) we can stop it,” Krawitz told the parents.
The Prevention Center is part of Johnson County government and receives both state and federal funding.