Not Your Average Classroom

Prevention Specialist Veronica Edmonds and Mr. Best’s eighth-grade class at Fairfield Middle School.

If you were to walk into a class taught by Prevention Specialists Veronica Edmonds or Courtney Kilgore from Fairfield Behavioral Health Services, you might be surprised by what you saw: games, songs, prizes – it was not your average classroom experience.

During the 2011-2012 school year, 679 students grades 4-9 participated in the Keepin’ It REAL (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave) program, an evidence-based curriculum that teaches strategies for refusing alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, as well as important decision making and communication skills. Schools that received the program include Kelly Miller Elementary School, Geiger Elementary School, McCorey Liston Elementary School, Fairfield Middle School and Fairfield Central High School.

A pre- and post-survey was administered to measure student’s attitudes and perceptions toward alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Data has been completed for students in classes from September to December 2011 and it was found that students’ perception of risk of harm while using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs increased significantly by 19.6 percent from pre- to post-test, meaning that students understand they could risk harming themselves or others if they use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. This was higher than the state percentage, which is 8.1 percent.

Additionally, there was a 5.7 percent increase in decision-making skills from pre- to post-test, meaning that students learned how to make better decisions by completing the Keepin’ It REAL program, which also is higher than the state percentage, at 1.8 percent.

Statistics are nice, but what does this really mean?

Students in Fairfield County are learning, through activities, games, songs and winning prizes, that using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is risky, harmful, and that avoiding alcohol, tobacco or other drugs is the better decision to make, not just now but all through out their lifetime.

That is why these Prevention Specialists did not have your average classroom; they were teaching life-long skills for decision making and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.