Moffat County High School teacher Craig Conrad keeps a list of all high school students who have been killed by drugs and alcohol abuse during his 23-year tenure, but he's determined to keep that list from growing.
A presentation Friday that is set to attract national media attention should help students steer away from illegal substances.
"This one's going to rock," Conrad said. "We're hoping that what we do will really wake up our kids."
Conrad has planned an all-school assembly that will incorporate video footage and a live phone call to the Wyoming State Penitentiary to talk with 1998 MCHS graduate Clint Haskins who is serving a 20-year sentence for being behind the wheel in a drunken-driving collision that killed eight college students.
Prison footage of miles of barbed wire and questions to a somber Haskins are part of the message that drugs and alcohol are not cool.
The presentation is similar to ones that Conrad has done at 120 other schools across the region, but it's the first for MCHS students. Conrad said that in the 12 years since he has been touring with the program that he's dubbed "Unstoppable You," he's spoken with more than 70,000 students.
At the end of each presentation, Conrad shakes the students' hands in a gesture that signifies students are vowing to be drug- and alcohol-free.
"This whole thing is not all doom and gloom," he said. "Some things are uplifting. It should hit home really hard."
Conrad said that when he started teaching at the high school, students would talk openly about their escapades of getting drunk or high during the weekends.
He asked students to fill out confidential questionnaires about their drinking and drug use and was shocked by the results. Conrad estimated that 90 percent of his students wanted to use drugs and alcohol to "be cool" and fit in.
"I want to make it the cool thing not to drink," Conrad said.
Friday's 9 a.m. presentation isn't open to the public because of limited space in the school's auditorium.
However, a CBS morning show and a couple of Denver TV stations will be taping the event, Conrad said.
Conrad hopes the event will help curb underage drinking and drug use and their acceptance among adults.
Some parents of high school students served alcohol at a graduation party last year, in an incident that "outraged community members," Conrad said.
"(Students) get so much conditioning from family, friends and advertising that alcohol is OK," he said. "Sometimes kids think it's funny that they're killing brain cells when they drink. But it's not funny.
"Talk to Clint."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org