BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - On Tuesday, November 13th, an assembly regarding vaping was held for all grades at Governor Livingston High School. Speaker Michael DeLeon was featured, discussing the harm of drug and alcohol possession and how dangerously popular vaping has become in recent years.

His presentation, “You’re Vaping Me Crazy,” talked about moving students in the right direction and preventing the usage of drugs and alcohol, especially vaping. His program, Steered Straight, focuses on the consequences of negative choices and how they can affect everyday life. To add to his point, DeLeon discussed his own experiences and the hardships he faced throughout his life due to bad decisions. Heart-wrenching and yet uplifting, his story shocked students to silence, seemingly making an impact on their outlook towards vaping and juuling.

The assembly was organized by Mr. Bob Segear, advisor of the TREND (Turning Recreational Events in New Directions) Club at Governor Livingston. Segear and DeLeon have a similar goal -- providing alternatives to decisions that teenagers may regret and discouraging those decisions. Many GL faculty present at the assembly felt students were attentive and taking the messages of Steered Straight to heart.

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Sophomore Olivia Buchholz said the assembly was very important “because even if the message shared affects one person, that is successful.” She felt that the importance of getting help with drugs would be better emphasized if students understood not only immediate consequences, but long term consequences as well. Buchholz found DeLeon’s stories to be moving and uplifting. She added that many of her classmates were likewise moved, and discussed the assembly together during lunch that day. Many other students share the same views as Buchholz, feeling that the assembly increased their awareness of the dangers of participating in events with drugs.

Another student, Brianna Cagan, also felt that the assembly was informative and important. However, she added, “it missed the mark in its main focus.” Cagan believes that although DeLeon’s life story was important, “[The assembly] could have been geared more toward and there could have made more mention of the lives of average high school students.” Others agreed with her, and felt they were not able to connect and find themselves in DeLeon’s shoes because his story was “so complicated and unusual.”

Overall, it seemed that more students were in favor of the assembly than not, because they realized there is so much more to live for than the high of drugs. As a member of the TREND executive board, I believe this assembly was very important for students to hear. With a real life example to compare to, students can become aware that with determination, the lives of many can be turned around and there is always hope for those struggling. Steering Straight gives teenagers a look into their future, and can make them choose a more rational path. There are so many more things to do for a natural high rather than drugs or alcohol, just as DeLeon said in the hope of inspiring students to make good decisions and avoid possession of drugs. 

Editor's Note: The Highlander section features articles written for The Highlander, Gov. Livingston High School's student newspaper.