Knightlife sponsors distracted driving speakers

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James Libbey

Speakers on distracted driving shared their personal stories on how the issues have impacted their lives.

James Libbey, News Editor

High school students must be aware of the dangers of chemical abuse, and BSM’s activity Knightlife works to educate the BSM community on such issues. One way that the club does this is through their annual chemical health awareness speakers, which took place this past week. This event began around 10 years ago and primarily focused on awareness of chemical abuse. More recently, the event expanded to include awareness of distracted driving and driving under the influence.

This event divided the school into three groups. A group of speakers sharing their struggles with and recovery from chemical abuse spoke to the freshman class; Vijay Dixit talked to the sophomore class about losing his daughter Shreya, class of ’06, to distracted driving; and retired state trooper John Nagel, class of ’74, talked to the junior and senior classes about his experiences informing parents when their children were involved in automobile crashes. “A smaller group of students is a little more conducive to hearing personal stories from speakers and having an opportunity to ask questions,” senior high counselor and Knightlife advisor Mr. Fran Roby said.

I’m proud of our students for showing their respect to all the speakers by listening intently and not having any side conversations.”

— Fran Roby

Another motive for creating the groups was to tailor the topics to be appropriate for the grade level. The freshmen, who are just beginning high school, hear more about how to avoid chemicals while the older students, who are able to drive, learn more about staying off the road if they are using chemicals. “[We] look at the topic, the message, and [pick] the most timely age level,” Roby said.

Two outside organizations were involved in making this event possible: Teen Challenge and Minnesotans for Safe Driving. Teen Challenge, through their program called Know the Truth, sends former addicts to schools to share their experiences and recovery. These speakers came to the freshman class during the event. The rest of the students were with Minnesotans for Safe Driving, which advocates for safe driving, combating distracted driving and driving under the influence.

The shift in the chemical health awareness event to include topics like distracted driving was prompted by a change in behavior. Deaths from distracted driving have increased in the past decade, especially with the use of cell phones, so the Knightlife advisers decided to include that since it’s considered an epidemic. “Rather than just focusing on addiction, [we decided to] expand to include some of the behavioral consequences of drug and alcohol abuse,” Roby said.

The chemical health awareness event with some of the new changes got an overall positive reaction from students. “I’m proud of our students for showing their respect to all the speakers by listening intently and not having any side conversations. Also, the freshmen and sophomore groups had some really good questions,” Roby said.