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Drug free GHS group brings its message to middle school

Darby Finnegan

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Darby Finnegan

— Grangeville High School Senior Lily Willig easily manipulated six “mannequins” last Friday, Nov. 20, at Grangeville Elementary Middle School.

Willig dragged each hooded student to a position on the gym floor and maneuvered their bodies to show them participating in a variety of behaviors including drinking, smoking, throwing up and shooting up. As the music wound down and she primped each figure to her liking, the GEMS sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students watched in silence as the party scene took form.

The final implication was clear as a huge sign was placed behind the group that read, “Don’t be a dummy.”

“That was a powerful message,” commented GEMS teacher Betty Nafziger.

GHS’s Idaho Drug Free Youth (IDFY) chapter’s members spent Friday morning at GEMS using some of their peer mentoring skills to interact with the middle school students. Members include Darby Finnegan, Lily Willig, Jolie Tosten, Chloe Dame, Hailey Russell, Zac Stoner, Alicia Huntley, Emily Kaschmitter, Isaac Valenzuela, Paige Lindsley, Nicole Blackmer, Ydira Rojas, Jolene Chmelik, Megan Hohman, Lauren Goldman, Zach Stinnett, Colton Cervantes and Matt Payne. Advisor is GHS teacher Naomi Finnegan.

“The mission of IDFY is to empower youth to live healthy lives,” said IDFY leader and GHS senior Darby Finnegan. “Drugs make us faceless; they don’t let who you are shine through.

Darby briefly explained how drugs are not a respecter of persons or their abilities, but quickly changed from an anti-drug message to a pro-student missive.

“We’re not here to focus on drugs – we’re here to focus on you,” she pointed to the students.

Darby explained to the group that judgment about many things – how a person does on a test or competes athletically – can “lead us to miss out on a lot of the really good things about people.”

IDFY members interacted with the middle school students by playing team-building games and participating in “getting to know you” exercises. Many of the activities included asking the kids to step out of their comfort zones and find new partners and people to intermingle with.

“I think this is great – I see kids talking together who may never have spoken to each other,” commented teacher Michelle Barger.

Darby ended the assembly by letting the students know the fun did not end there.

“This has been really fun – but it doesn’t mean a thing if it stays in this gym and ends here,” she said. “It’s our jobs to branch out and make a difference. Sit with someone new at lunch, be a friend to someone who is struggling. Be nicer to your teachers or parents – whoever. Just show a little more kindness, acceptance and let your individuality shine through. Pay it forward!”

For a video of the IDFY skit, log onto


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