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Forest Hills PS students learn affects of drug trade

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The student council leaders from PS 196 got a lesson in drug prevention and awareness from the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration himself.

The sharp group of students from the Forest Hills elementary school seemed to need little guidance though, as they impressed Director Asa Hutchinson with their knowledge of drug problems and current events as he met with them Tuesday morning.

Hutchinson questioned the 12 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders on topics such as drug-supplying countries, prevention, health issues and causes of use.

“I heard on the news that [Osama bin Laden] is using heroin as a method of getting weapons and guns,” said one student, eager to show off his knowledge.

Another student said if you take drugs “you might get a heart attack. You will harm your body and have a lot less opportunity than those who don’t take drugs.”

A hopeful future major league baseball player commented “drugs can ruin my performing ability.”

As Hutchinson continued to quiz the kids, one boy decided to turn the tables and said, “Could I ask you a few questions?”

The kids followed with questions about Hutchinson’s job and he spoke about the difficulties, the dangers, and the methods of prevention.

One boy asked, speaking more like a reporter than an elementary school student, “What drugs are the most abundant around the world, and which are the hardest to stop?”

Hutchinson lectured the kids about rampant illegal use of marijuana and the growing popularity of the drug ecstasy in young crowds. He mentioned the DEA’s campaign tying drug sales to the financing of terrorism and commended kids for their awareness.

“I wish I could put you on TV and convince people drugs are bad,” Hutchinson told the students. “You’re a great example for America.”

The students have benefited from the district’s drug counselor, Dennis McIntosh, and from the city’s Substance Prevention Intervention Network Schools, or SPINS program, which educates them in drug-related issues, including tobacco and alcohol.

The student council leaders are also very active in the community, dubbing PS 196 “A School with a Heart.” They run fund-raisers for the American Heart Association, coat collections for New York Cares, and canned food collections for City Harvest, among other charitable events.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hutchinson, a former Congressman from Arkansas, addressed drug prevention specialists and agencies at the Partners for Prevention Conference held at St. John’s University.

You can reach reporter Brendan Browne by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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