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OHS project promotes drug-free lifestyle

Promoting an anti-drug message at the Oxford Christmas parade were (from left) Emily Hillebrand, Lindsay Keenist, Claire Wolanin and Olivia Jones. (click for larger version)
January 12, 2011 - The never-ending war against illegal drug use continues to be waged with the help of two new recruits Olivia Jones and Emily Hillebrand.

A public relations campaign called "Hugs, not Drugs" was launched by the Oxford High School seniors as both a project for their marketing class and an entry for the state DECA competition in Grand Rapids this March.

"There's been a lot of kids suspended at our school for either doing drugs or drinking alcohol," Jones said. "We looked up some statistics and they were shocking. Most high school students have tried alcohol or been offered a drug.

"That was really surprising, so we wanted to really get the word out there that you don't have to do these kinds of things."

Jones and Hillebrand's project has promoted a drug-free lifestyle in a variety of ways.

They hosted a flag football tournament that encouraged their peers to enjoy the "natural high of hanging out with friends."

They walked in the Oxford Christmas parade, carrying anti-drug banners and handing out candy and t-shirts.

In two weeks, the young ladies are conducting a school assembly featuring guest speaker Richard Rondeau, who spent two years as the executive director of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"We're planning on about 300 students (to attend)," Jones noted.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Jones and Hillebrand will be at Buffalo Wild Wings (770 N. Lapeer Rd.) in Lake Orion handing out anti-drug brochures.

They'll also be collecting 20 percent of patrons' bills to help finance their project. Patrons must present a flyer, which is available at the OHS front office.

Their last event will be a Sunday, Feb. 27 bowling tournament open to all OHS sports teams and clubs. Five-member teams will pay a $100 entry fee to compete for cash and prizes. That fee will cover shoes and pizza.

In addition to events, the students plan to spread their anti-drug message by purchasing some space on a local billboard and creating a commercial to be broadcast on Oxford Community Television (Channel 97).

"We hope that by doing this project we would be able to impact the lives of many people, not only in our town, but . . . people outside of our area," Jones and Hillebrand wrote in an e-mail.

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