Craig Conrad's "Unstoppable You" presentation last week at Moffat County High School was thought-provoking and certainly appropriate given the history of underage drinking in the county.
There were minor things about the presentation that made us uncomfortable, but overall we think Conrad should be commended for being a passionate teacher who cares enough about the health and welfare of Moffat County teenagers to try to do something about underage drinking.
Do we have a drinking problem in Moffat County? It's tough to gauge. Lately law enforcement officials have indicated that stiffer DUI laws are making adults more responsible behind the wheel. That's the good news. The bad news is that underage drinking continues to be enough of a problem that the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition continues to land grants to pay for extra police patrols on weekends that target children and alcohol.
The essence of Conrad's message is that drugs and alcohol impair judgment and can stop people from reaching their full potential. He drove the point home by getting former MCHS graduate Clint Haskins to share his story of alcohol abuse and how it landed him in a Wyoming state prison.
Haskins, as most people know, was a student at the University of Wyoming. He was well-liked and had a bright future ahead of him. Then he got behind the wheel after an evening of heavy drinking and hit a vanload of college students, killing eight people.
Haskins mother was part of Friday's presentation, and we applaud her involvement. She and Clint Haskins have worked hard to turn a tragic event into something positive. Their willingness to share their pain and heartache have doubtlessly touched some teens and made think twice about drinking and driving.
But Conrad goes a step further.
He invites students to shake his hand after his presentation as a symbol to live a life free of alcohol and drugs.
Some students grumbled that they felt put on the spot. Others chose to forego the handshake.
We don't think that diminishes the spirit of Conrad's presentation. His devotion to students is obvious. He cares about them and wants them to succeed. But his presentation raises an interesting question about the role of teachers in the school We need motivators to encourage students to do their best and reach for the stars. But should they be teaching values?
We leave it to parents to decide whether they are comfortable with Conrad's message. We certainly agree that no student needs to experiment with alcohol until they reach the legal age. At that point, they can decide whether it's something they want to make part of their lifestyle. But Conrad is correct to point out that consuming alcohol is fraught with dangers.
Obviously, there are some parents in the community who consume alcohol -- hopefully responsibly.
It's up to them to talk to their children and explain why Conrad's message conflicts with their own choices to drink and why consuming alcohol is an adult activity.
Parents need to adopt a no-tolerance stance for teen drinking and educate their children about the risks and effects of drinking alcohol.
Law enforcement officials and establishments that sell and serve liquor need to take a no-tolerance stance, too.
But it's nice knowing that there are people like Craig Conrad who give so freely of their own time to put the interests of our children first.