February has brought a new installation to the campus of McKinleyville High School: The Reality Wall.
This is wall where students give accounts of the effects that drugs and alcohol have had on their lives or the lives of people they know.
The purpose of this project is to illuminate the effects of substance abuse on the lives of the students.
Starting on Feb. 1, with the guidance of Student Assistance Counselor Chris Evans, students Summer Driscoll and Maisie French, along with myself, asked students to fill out anonymous cards describing personal experiences about the impact of drugs and alcohol on them.
The results were interesting. The students used it as a way to let their voices be heard on the struggles they face every day when they get home from school and on the weekends. Some students have struggled with the problem for years.
This year marks the 17th year this project has been enacted. It brought 311 new responses this year from people who have been affected by substance abuse.
Answers varied from little effect taking place, to students who have had family members and friends die or disappear due to addictions.
People also wrote about the harms of drunk driving and having drinks spiked at parties, and the dangerous and damaging results thereof.
It was heartbreaking to see so many students carrying such heavy burdens every day, but the goal was accomplished. This project brought about empathy for those who are afflicted by all the pain that substance abuse has caused them.
The wall has allowed others to see that they are not alone, and that students’ situations are sometimes more serious than what one sees from day to day.
Anonymously, students were able to say what has been resting on their shoulders without feeling too exposed.
The wall will remain on display on the quad in the center of campus for the whole month.