NOPE presentation comes to Robinson
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As juniors filed into the auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 13, they were handed a pamphlet that read, “Only one time could kill you” in big letters. A picture of high school boys carrying a coffin was plastered right beneath the words. The inside of the pamphlet was filled with stories of teenagers who have died from drug overdose.
The NOPE Task Force (Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education) presented on the dangers of drug addiction during a special assembly only for the Robinson juniors. The presentation included speakers Officer Mark Holloway, who is the student resource officer at Plant High School, NOPE! committee member Rhonda Campagna and family speaker Lynn Knowles, whose daughter passed away from an overdose at 23-years old.
“Life is about choices— these choices aren’t always about you,” Officer Holloway said. “These choices you make have everlasting consequences on the people you love and the people that love you.”
Every day in the United States, approximately 129 people die due to drug overdoses. It is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50.
The presentation highlighted the lives of 14 local teens who passed away due to drug overdose. These teens included middle schoolers, an Alonso senior and Plant senior Katie Golden, who died in 2017 from drug overdose a week after her senior prom.
Her prom pictures were plastered on the auditorium stage as speakers emphasized that it only takes one time.
Campagna expressed the importance of the Good Samaritan Law, which offers legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to others in danger. The law is intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitance to react when a situation involving drugs, alcohol or other substances occurs.
Knowles spoke about her deceased, 23-year old daughter, Jamie Godette Church. Jamie fell into drug addiction in middle school and went through multiple rounds of rehabilitation up until her death.
Knowles now travels around Hillsborough County sharing Jamie’s story with other students, hoping that they won’t end up like her daughter.
“My life will never be the same. I didn’t get to see her again until she was in the coffin,” Knowles said as tears ran down her face. “I only have the memories.”
Jamie partied frequently with nine other girls. All 10 of them drank, smoked pot and took unprescribed medication.
Today, three of her friends are dead, two are in prison for attempts of stealing drugs and three fight the addiction every day.
“Imagine your mom up here telling your story,” Knowles said. “It’s not worth it.”
The auditorium quickly filled with tears as Knowles spoke and as the assembly took an emotional approach to the issue that teens face.
“[The presentation] made students more aware of the consequences of drugs and alcohol on their family and people they might not consider when partaking in these actions,” Sophia Krinos (’19), who attended the conference, said. “Whenever I might be influenced by peer pressure, I will consider the consequences because I don’t want to hurt my family or friends.”
Click here for more information on drug addiction and NOPE’s mission.