First responders, law enforcement officers, school officials and other community members met at Bondurant Middle School on Tuesday to demonstrate the truths and consequences that students could face if they choose to use drugs.
Eighth grade students from Second Street School, Capital Day School, Elkhorn Middle and BMS attended "Truth and Consequences: The Choice is Yours" and participated in a simulation with volunteers. Each student was given a different scenario, such as being caught buying illegal drugs or injuring someone else because of drug use, and assigned a “parent,” played by a Franklin County High School, Western Hills High School or Kentucky State University student. While the situations were fictitious, the consequences mirrored real-life repercussions.
Some students appeared in District Court before Judge Kathy Mangeot, while others were booked by Franklin County Regional Jail employees. Frankfort Independent Schools board member Tasha Jones and Franklin County Schools board member Chuck Fletcher handed out a few expulsions and assigned students to community service and counseling.
“We try to recommend community hours, let the kids know that we care about them and that this is more than just them. This is a community effort,” Jones said.
Fletcher believes events like Truth and Consequences help students understand the reality of challenges they may face. Jones said it also shows that one quick mistake can follow students into adulthood.
“It’s helping them to understand the real-life situations that they can be in and this is what could happen,” Fletcher said.
Truth and Consequences was held for the first time last year and is sponsored by the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Service. Amy Snow, Franklin County School’s dropout prevention coordinator, said she heard at a conference about other school districts that held similar programs with their extension agents and reached out to the extension office.
“What I like about Truth and Consequences is that it is real life. They are actually meeting face to face with people, so I think that makes it more real for them, the experience more real,” Snow said.
Brookelynn Bickers, an eighth grader at Elkhorn, was given a scenario in which an open bottle of gin was found in her school locker during a routine check. She was sent to the principal's office and spoke with the school board during the simulation. Brookelynn said the simulation showed that “a lot of trouble” stems from illegal substance abuse.
“It’s better to not do it than to do it,” she said, adding that it was also helpful to see faces of community members and local resources.
In addition to the simulation, students heard a few speakers on Tuesday. A representative from the Franklin County Health Department spoke about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes. Corey Councill, founder of Families Against Deadly Drugs, told the story of his son, FCHS graduate David Councill, who died of an overdose in 2017. A few students came up to him following the presentation to thank him for being open about the topic.
“If we can delay their first years (of use), that’s the key,” Councill said after speaking to EMS students.
Councill said that when his son was facing addition, he hardly spoke about it, but now he wants to share the experience with others to hopefully change someone’s perspective.
Another speaker was Quinton Higgins Jr., a survivor of a 1988 Carrollton bus crash that killed 27 after the bus was struck by a drunk driver on the way back from Kings Island theme park in Ohio.
“At 47, I still have a hard time understanding that I was involved in this,” Higgins told students who were aboard a replica of the bus that he owns.
Higgins emphasized that the choice of one person to drink behind the wheel impacted the 67 who were on the bus that day, as well as their families. He now travels with the bus to speak about the crash and how it has impacted his life. Higgins said it's important to teach kids that they can go to their parents with any problem.
“Make your child feel comfortable and then you start talking to them about everything in life,” Higgins said.