School sponsored program tonight at TEC Center: abuse prevention

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 Switzerland County School Corporation and Drug Free Switzerland County would like to invite the community — especially parents of school-aged children — to attend an upcoming special presentation.

  Nationally known motivational speaker and teen life coach Chad Varga will be speaking tonight (Thursday evening, March 7th), at the Switzerland County Technology and Education Center on West Seminary Street in Vevay. The program will begin at 6 p.m. There is no cost to attend the program, and light refreshments will be served, compliments of the Drug Free SC organization.

  Parents of school-age children are encouraged to attend this presentation with their children. A letter to parents of children in the corporation system has been sent home with the students.

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The program is being funded as part of a larger grant that the Switzerland County School Corporation has received from the Indiana Department of Education and its CURES Substance Abuse Grant.

  According to Fred Ross, grant writing coordinator for the School Corporation, Switzerland County was one of 10 counties in the State of Indiana that was invited to apply for the funding, along with Ohio, Rush, Madison, Bartholomew, Shelby, Knox, LaPorte, Jennings, and Vermillion counties.

  “Eligible Applicants: any Local Education Agency…..who are geographically located in the following counties, which represent high rates of substance abuse, are eligible to participate…” the grant form said.

  “We were one of 10 counties that was eligible for the 21st Century CURES Substance Abuse grant from the Department of Education,” Ross said. “They are in partnership with the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction.”

  Ross said that securing the grant funds came with a tight timeline.

  “We got the email on December 7th, and we had to submit the grant application by December 14th,” Ross laughed. “It was a very short window to apply. Basically we have until April 1st to spend the money — so everything had to be done by then. It was a really short turn around, because we didn’t get approved until mid-February.”

  Ross said that the focus of the grant is for school corporations to use the money to purchase curriculum so that substance abuse prevention can be taught in the classroom; but he said that the Switzerland County School Corporation also put into the grant that it would like to bring in a speaker, and that portion of the grant was approved as well — and that led the corporation to contract with Varga.

  Varga, a former High School All American basketball player, also played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh and professionally. His is a message of hope.

  Varga has spoken to more than four million people throughout America, and has been a featured guest on many of America’s television and radio networks. He was named one of six up-and-coming leaders in America by New York Times Best Selling Author Dr. John Maxwell; and has also been nominated as one of the REAL Richest People In America for his work with students.

  With all of that said, Varga’s real story is about survival. Often abandoned and abused as a child, he was able to overcome what seemed to be insurmountable odds and now is inspiring countless others to do the same.

  Varga will share his life experiences and his childhood challenges in hopes of inspiring students into making positive choices in life.

  Ross said that School Superintendent Rod Hite had heard good things about Varga’s presentation from his appearances at other schools, including Batesville High School and South Decatur High School, and recommended that the corporation try and bring him here as a part of the grant — which was successful.

  The speaker will begin today by speaking to students at Switzerland County High School from 8:15-9:15 a.m., and that will be followed by a ‘meet and greet’ to speak more personally with the students for approximately 30 minutes.

  At 10 a.m. Varga will speak again, this time in the Jeff-Craig gym to students in grades 6-8. Ross noted that sixth graders from Switzerland County Elementary School will be bused down for the presentation. He will then again hold a ‘meet and greet’ following that program.

  Then, tonight (Thursday) Varga will be presenting to the community at large — parents, students, and everyone interested — at the TEC Center on Seminary Street beginning at 6 p.m.

  Ross said that Drug Free Switzerland County is providing light refreshments prior to the beginning of the program; and will then hold another ‘meet and greet’ with the public following.

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  The grant that Switzerland County received was in the amount of $59,560; and along with bringing Varga to the community; the corporation will be purchasing a curriculum, “Too Good for Drugs”, which encompasses grades K-12. The curriculum provides materials that specifically address the opiate and substance use disorder crisis going on in communities all around the state and country.

  “We’re going to teach that in kindergarten through 12th grade, probably starting next year,” Ross said. “It’s not a full year course, I think it’s 10 or 15 lesson curriculum that teachers can teach however they want — once a week; 10 to 15 consecutive days; they can do two days a week — but once they start they’ll have a plan to get through it. We want to educate kids on the dangers of substance abuse.”

  Along with the curriculum program, the grant provides for direct training of staff, including stipends for teachers, administrators and other educators such as counselors who will be participating in training or curriculum development.

  Ross said that the corporation attempted to get another speaker through the grant, but that speaker wasn’t available until October, so he isn’t sure if grants funds will still be able to be used after the April 1st deadline.