“What you can lose from it is so much greater than what you can benefit from doing it,” senior Jack Assaf said about alcohol and drug consumption in high school. PASS, or Pace Academy Student Support, is a student-run organization dedicated to helping eighth graders transition into high school, with a focus on the role of drugs and alcohol in teenagers’ lives. Under the leadership of faculty advisers Ms. Goodrich and Mr. Kates, consultant Mrs. Eden, and co-presidents Jack Assaf and senior Megan McCurry, the group embarks on its third year with big plans.

Co-presidents seniors Jack Assaf and Megan McCurry plan their first PASS meeting.

From speaking to the eighth graders, the PASS members learned about their misconceptions of high school life. “Their stereotypes are all over the place,” said Jack. He explained that the majority of the eighth grade class believes that almost all juniors and seniors drink and use drugs almost every weekend. “They have these strong beliefs which have been taught through either tradition or belief or what they’ve heard from rumors,” he said. The group emphasizes to the future Upper School students that alcohol does not define the social life at Pace Upper School. “I like to be in control of my actions, and there are many other fabulous ways to have fun!” Megan said.

PASS aims to create student to student connections, which the members hope will be more effective in communicating their message. “They [the eighth graders] are really interested in what happens in high school… I think it’s good for them to hear from students who don’t use,” Ms. Goodrich said. The students who join PASS are required to take a pledge that they will not consume alcohol or drugs at any point in their Pace careers. “People don’t choose not to drink because they are in PASS; people who don’t drink choose to be in PASS,” Jack said. The members, who can only join PASS after being individually interviewed, feel strongly about their cause. Megan stressed, “Saying ‘no’ is easier than you think. Think of what you have and what you stand to lose.”

Recent assembly speaker Chris Herren’s story and struggle confirms the message that PASS is trying to convey. The group hopes that by talking to students before they enter high school, they can prevent them from losing themselves to substance abuse later in life. Jack said, “Whether it’s sports or school or singing or dancing or whatever else it is, all that you’ve worked for can go down the drain with one mistake.”

By Suzanne Monyak, Co-Editor-in-Chief ’14

Photo: Suzanne Monyak

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