By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
Tuesday morning, Craig Conrad stood in front of the Moffat County High School student body, and challenged them to be unstoppable.
In a presentation that lasted close to two hours, Conrad, the MCHS wood shop teacher, told stories mostly based on his first hand accounts with people who have ruined their lives due to alcohol and drug use.
"I'm not going to preach to you or give you a sermon," he promised the students. "I'm just going to tell you stories."
By telling these stories he demonstrated to students the numerous ways drugs and alcohol can make someone stoppable, whether it be jail, health problems or even death.
"I'm telling you today how to be unstoppable," he said. "Empower yourself from the power within."
He then had the students respond in unison, "I am unstoppable."
In his first example, he told students the one way to control the most powerful animal on earth, the elephant, is with a tranquilizer.
"How do you stop an unstoppable elephant?" He asked. "With a tranquilizer. What is a tranquilizer? A drug."
"If the biggest, strongest animal on the planet earth can become stoppable because of a drug, why do we do it?" He asked.
He then used examples of comical beer commercials used to lure people into wanting to drink. Two examples included the Budweiser frogs and "taste great, less filling" Miller light ads.
Conrad told the students he had ideas for beer commercials, but his were slightly different than the fun ones put forth by beer companies.
Using real life examples, he told stories that he would use in beer commercials, stories that painted a different picture of what happens when people drink and use drugs.
He told a story of a guy knocking on his dorm room door in college, announcing that a train was being pulled in another room.
By pulling a train, the student meant he and other male students were taking turns having sex with a girl who was passed out after drinking too much alcohol.
A neighbor student that Conrad described as a pig, took part in the train that night.
He graphically described the crude habits of the student in order to demonstrate the fact that the girl who was passed out and unknowingly had sex with him never would have even considered dating him, but was forced to have sex with him because of alcohol.
"You should have seen what it was like for that girl to leave the dorm the next morning," he said.
Another commercial, Conrad said, would be about one of the toughest men he has ever known, his grandfather.
Conrad told numerous stories exemplifying how tough his grandfather was, one being when he witnessed his grandfather control a mean bull by twisting the ring in its nose.
Conrad described the irony of witnessing this man in a helpless state before he died.
"It was tough seeing that rough, tough man lying in bed dying of lung cancer," he said.
The next commercial, he said, would be about some of his former students who have died in alcohol related accidents.
"You can see in every one of my commercials that these people have become stoppable because of drugs and alcohol," he said.
He then asked students how many of them have lost someone because they have become stoppable as a result of alcohol.
Half of the students stood.
"How many of you are concerned that if someone doesn't stop what they're doing you might lose them?" He asked.
At that point, about every student present stood.
"Don't tell me we don't have a problem in this country when every school I go to 80 to 90 percent of students stand when I say this," he said.
Arguably, the most convincing story Conrad shared with his students was one about a former student who will be in prison until at least 2030 as a result of a poor decision he made one night after consuming approximately 20 beers.
The 20-year-old former student of Conrads was upset at his uncle for breaking up a party he was having in his mobile home.
In his drunken state, he went to where his uncle lived and shot him eight times.
In past presentations, Conrad has had a phone conversation with the former student in prison, but the warden would not allow the man to do so Tuesday morning.
But Conrad shared stories he has had in conversations with the former student.
Conrad painted a vivid picture of the life the man now leads in prison telling of how he's seen people stabbed, raped and thrown to their death over a third level railings.
Conrad quoted one conversation with the man saying: "A man came into my cell and said he was going to sodomize me. He took a step toward me and...."
Conrad stopped in the middle of the story and said, "You're wondering what happened next."
He looked at the students in the audience and said:
"By the time you all have kids who have graduated from high school, he will still be sitting there wondering what in the hell is going to happen today," he said. "That is what I call being stoppable."
At the conclusion of his presentation, he asked students to make a commitment to be drug and alcohol free.
"If you're drinking or using tobacco, as long as you want to be in control you're not," he said. "That little pack of Skoal or smokes is in charge."
"Today you can make a commitment to break those chains and be unstoppable," he said.
Most students agreed to accept the challenge by waiting in line to shake his hand and make a pledge to be drug and alcohol free at the conclusion of the presentation.
He gives students an opportunity to do this every time he gives his presentation, which is approximately 12 times a year at schools throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Conrad said his decision to start giving these talks stemmed from a culmination of experiences he has witnessed among students and in his own life.
"I decided I could sit around and complain like most people or I could do something about it," he said.
At the conclusion of Tuesday's lecture, when going through the line to make his pledge, one student even gave Conrad his can of Copenhagen chewing tobacco, promising he planned to quit.
Two freshman students said they thought Conrad's presentation would make a difference on students attitudes toward drugs and alcohol.
"It was really sad and heart touching," said Amanda Szatkewski, a ninth grader at MCHS. "I think it made a lot of difference."
"It finally clicked in some people and made them realize how important life is," she said.
"I thought the stories were really interesting," said Angela Nelson, also a ninth grader at MCHS. "If people realized how much drinking can change their life they wouldn't do it."