SSHS theater dept. receives thousands in donations for making good choices

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 12, 2007 - Sulphur Springs High School's Theater Department Friday accepted $2,000 in donations today for its project CHOICES (Choosing How Our Influence Can Empower Students).

Staff Photo by Angela PItts

SSHS theater director Dawn Magness accepts a $1,000 Good Decisions Grant from State Farm Insurance and a $1,000 donation from MADD to help fund the theater arts service learning project CHOICES: Choosing How Our Influence Can Empower Students. Pictured are SSHS Principal John McCullough; District Attorney Martin Braddy; State Farm Insurance agent Paul Stewart; Kathleen Godwin, also with State Farm; Magness; State Farm Insurance agent Larry Moore; SSHS security officer Gordon Fulcher; and SSPD DARE Lt. Jay Sanders.

The goal for the theater arts group’s CHOICES project is to encourage students to make “positive choices and understand the potentially tragic outcomes of teenage alcoholism,” said Dawn Magness, director of the SSHS theater arts department.

CHOICES is a cooperative program between SSHS theater students and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Sulphur Springs Police Department and campus security, the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and State Farm Insurance.

This morning, Paul Stewart, Larry Moore and Kathleen Godwin, along with Sulphur Springs Police Drug Abuse Resistance Education program Lt. Jay Sanders, District Attorney Martin Braddy,  SSHS Principal Jon McCullough and security officer Gordon Fulcher were on hand for the presentation of a $1,000 Good Decisions Grant from State Farm Insurance and another $1,000 from MADD.

Earlier in the year, Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jim Bayuk awarded the theater department $2,500 to help sponsor the program, and Braddy’s office also gave them $2,500 to assist with the “No Sex, No Drugs” play the students performed at a convention in Houston.

The students have the money to use with a “mock disaster” in which high school students were shown as “victims” of car wrecks caused by drunk driving. During the Fall Festival, they stretched out on top of smashed vehicles, covered in fake blood and made up as if injured in a drunk driving crash.

�It was met with excellent results,� Magness said. "We received many very encouraging comments."

The mock trauma victims gained the attention of youths. The display also gave parents an opportunity to reinforce to their children why they shouldn’t drink alcohol, and the potential outcome if they get behind the wheel of a car after drinking, or ride in a car in which the driver has consumed alcohol.

SSHS students were invited to perform the production "No Sex, No Drugs" at this year's Texas Educational Theater Association  State Convention.

�Kids noticed, and parents were able to point and say, 'That�s what happens,'" Magness said. "It was an educational experience for the public, too.�

Next week, the drama students will used the donated money to continue their alcohol awareness program by performing “Alky,” a play by Jerome McDonough which explores teenage alcohol and drug use, and the importance of making right choices.

SSHS theater students will perform “Alky” Thursday at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. for their fellow high school students, then take the show on the road Oct. 19 with a 10 a.m. performance at Sulphur Spring Middle School.

During Red Ribbon Week, they will perform at Saltillo ISD the morning of Oct. 23, then follow up with an afternoon performance at Sulphur Bluff School. They are also slated to visit North Hopkins ISD Oct. 23, and Cumby and Como-Pickton on Halloween.

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