School Spirit Helps Students Avoid Bad Decisions

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Members and would-be members enjoying the burgers and hot dogs offered by Payson High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club at their first activity, a picnic at Rumsey Park.

"I came because I thought it would be fun and there's food and it is better than the school lunch," said freshman and potential new member Daniel Adams.

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Each colored bead that Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) members Grace Springstead, KaTrina Reese and Jennifer "Phoenix" Hayes are weaving into their key chains represent a person affected by their decisions. The key chains come with remembrance cards to fill in with names to match the beads.

Freshman Kayla Cobo came to play volleyball.

Adams did not know what SADD stood for when Cobo suggested they check it out, but he knows what harm destructive decisions can cause.

"Where I lived in California, midnight was the worst time for teenagers racing down the streets," Adams said. "Sometimes they would hit animals," he said, shaking his head before heading to the sands of the volleyball court for a game.

"Building school spirit is our number one goal," said SADD coordinator Abigail Pederson.

"I like when we do stuff like this and we are all together," said sophomore Valerie Powers who was in SADD last year.

SADD is a way for students to come to and "hang out and build spirit without cliques," said sophomore Lacy Donovan.

The club will elect its president this week and next year's activities are still in the planning stages.

Members have already sold tickets at volleyball and they are discussing selling yellow ribbons to promote suicide prevention.

"I think we are going to ask the Mayor to recognize a day for suicide awareness and make it a big, big deal," said sophomore Brooke Youngcourt.

But SADD membership is mostly about making friends and staying out of trouble, Youngcourt, Donovan and their friends Valerie Powers and Shea'la Paul were quick to add.

The girls are excited about the national SADD conference that takes place each summer. Participants who went last year raised $845 each to go, mostly by doing yard work.

"We charge whatever people want to give us," Donovan said.

When new members join SADD they must sign a contract pledging, "I will do everything in my power to avoid making decisions that will jeopardize my health, my safety and overall well-being, or your trust in me. I understand the dangers associated with the use of alcohol and drugs and the destructive behaviors often associated with impairment."

Destructive decisions can lead to scary consequences.

"If you drink you could die in a car accident," Donovan said.

"It is all about making good choices," Powers said. "You know the kids who drink and chew and I think about drinking or chewing tobacco and don't choose to do it because it's not fun."

-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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