Windsor High School students hoping to DEFY perceptions | MyWindsorNow.com

Windsor High School students hoping to DEFY perceptions

Emily Wenger
ewenger@mywindsornow.com

Paris Conder, a freshman at Windsor High School, joined a new group this year that she hopes will help her parents have more trust in her friends.

The Windsor High School DEFY Street Team works to change the community's perspective of high school students in Windsor. According to a survey conducted by the DEFY team and the Weld County Prevention Partners, 69 percent of the school's students say they do not drink, and more than 70 percent say they do not smoke marijuana.

But even high school students think a majority of their peers are drinking or doing drugs, according to the survey. Dick Thomas, co-DEFY sponsor and assistant principal for WHS, said the numbers are considered reliable because students can answer anonymously, and so would have no reason to lie.

When the group first formed in 2009, the survey taken by students showed 61 percent had not drunk alcohol for more than 30 days, but in 2017 more than 80 percent said youth in the community drink.

“Any time I want to go to a friend’s house for a party or something my parents worry,” Paris ConderFreshman at Windsor High School

Conder hopes by changing that perception and showing what a low number of students are regular drinkers and smokers, adults in the community will see the majority of students at the school are trustworthy.

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"Any time I want to go to a friend's house for a party or something my parents worry," she said.

Gerald Mack, a senior at WHS, will be on the team for his fourth year. Mack said he wanted to join to raise awareness for students. If more know that the majority of students at the high school are not drinking and smoking marijuana, he hopes they will be less likely to do so.

"They'll feel like it's OK not to do that stuff," he said.

To spread the word about the statistics, Mack said the group has handed out cups and stickers. The team's first meeting was held last week, and they discussed other strategies for raising awareness, like making videos or handing out T-shirts.

Many of his friends were surprised to learn how few students drink and smoke, Mack said.

Kevin Johnson, co-DEFY sponsor and health teacher at WHS, has been helping the group for about three years. Johnson said he's heard from other adults in the community that they assume a majority of the high school students in Windsor drink and smoke.

"As a teacher, I hate that perception in the community," he said.

Cody Eaton, a sophomore, said he hopes to not only change the perception of other students at the school about drug and alcohol use, but also encourage both adults and youth in the Windsor community to commit to not drinking or smoking.

"I've seen the effects of drug and alcohol use, and I don't want more people to be getting involved in that," he said.

By the numbers

Windsor High School students have been asked questions about alcohol, marijuana and tobacco use in a survey provided to students since 2009. The survey, conducted as a partnership between the Windsor High School DEFY campaign and the Weld County Prevention Partners, shows trends in behavior and perception of other students’ behavior, including the following:

» From 2009 to 2017, youth reporting they used alcohol one or more days in the past month decreased from 39 percent to 31 percent.

» Students reported they perceived 83 percent of other students at the school used alcohol one or more days in the past month, much higher than the 31 percent reported.

» Students reported youth drinking and driving in the past month rose from 7 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2017.

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