Straight Way performed Thursday

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Seeing a drug problem on her campus that administrators and parents weren't quick to acknowledge, Orange Grove High School senior Kassey Parisher decided to take matters into her own hands and pushed to raise funds to bring the Straight Way program to her school.

The Straight Way presentation is unique in that it addresses the drug problem from a teen's perspective, using actual 16 to 20 year olds who know of the devastating effects of alcohol and drugs.

Parisher said she remembers seeing the program as a seventh-grade student, and the effect it had on her and her fellow students. As a senior, she noticed the number of students last year who did not pass school drug testing, and felt the number to be too high for such a small school. She felt the best way she could help was by working to bring the program back.

"The students here know what goes on at our school. But really, the parents and the administrators aren't really aware of what the problem is," Parisher said.

She said the message is much more accessible for students, hearing it from other young people instead of a presentation from adults.

"The students can relate better. They're a group of teens. It's not one of those boring kind of presentations you have. No matter what type of information an adult has, it still wouldn't get across like a teen would to a teen," Parisher said.

To bring the program to Orange Grove, Parisher raised nearly $1,800. It was not an easy task. She said that since Orange Grove is small, there aren't too many businesses to turn to to raise that kind of money.

Through talking with school administrators, parents and those in the community, and a large letter writing campaign, Parisher was able to scrape together enough funds since she started the project last October.

The event took place on Thursday with two presentations, one at OGHS at 10 a.m. and another at the OGJH after lunch.

Along with their personal stories, the Straight Way speakers also put on dramatic presentations, perform skits, choreograph songs and answer questions from the audience.

"It was a lot of hard work. I've talked to so many people, explaining what Straight Way does. I wanted to bring in someone that could change things and hopefully put a stop to the drug problem. It was really a community wide effort," Parisher said.