South Orangetown Central School District

Varsity Athletes visit SOMS health class

Tappan Zee High School varsity athletes have been visiting seventh and eighth grade health classes at South Orangetown Middle School to talk with students about the dangers of drug and alcohol use as part of the Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse (VAASA) Program.

During their visits, TZHS VAASA members have discussed why they have chosen to take an oath to remain drug, alcohol, tobacco and vape free. Junior Anabel L. said, “It’s important to have these conversations with the middle school students because they’re so young and it’s important to guide them in the right direction now.”

Each class began with ice breaker activities including a game of “Should I or Shouldn’t I” where they were given fictional scenarios and had to choose how they would respond in a certain situation. After the ice breakers, VAASA members talked about the importance of avoiding peer pressure, how substance abuse can negatively impact their athletic performance and the effects it can have on your school life and personal life. “I think it’s important to teach them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse before they get into high school. We can’t tell them what to do but we can give them the knowledge, teach them the dangers of substance abuse and let them know how it can impact their life,” explained junior Lizbeily M.

SOMS students were given small slips of paper to anonymously ask any questions they had including how they balance school work and sports, what to expect when going to high school and how they have avoided peer pressure. “I really want these kids to get off on the right foot. As high school students, we’re showing them honesty and sharing what can happen if they make certain decisions. It’s really important to me that we do what we can to keep them safe and healthy,” noted junior Karoline L.

VAASA Advisor, Track & Field/Cross Country Coach and TZHS Special Education teacher Patrick Driscoll worked with the varsity athletes earlier this school year to help prepare them for the presentations. “The VAASA members have been presenting to our middle school health classes for years and it is a beneficial presentation for both the varsity athletes and the health students. The VAASA members attended a presentation training back in February run by the Rockland County CANDLE organization to help prepare them for these visits,” explained Driscoll. “We are hopeful that these presentations will help the health students live healthy lives as they enter their young teen years.”