Schools host safe parties for teens during prom, graduation seas - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Schools host safe parties for teens during prom, graduation season

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Parents, if you think you know all the drugs your kids could be into think again.

There are some new names police say you should hear, and now's the time to hear them.

Why? Prom and graduation are upon us and schools are now taking more proactive steps to keep celebrations from turning tragic.

Students say the safe parties are fun, and make good choices easier to make.

"I do all I can to make positive choices because it's always been in the back of my mind if I make one little mistake it could ruin my future," said Tanner Robert of Notre Dame High School.

Teens say they see a lot of drug trends many parents may not be aware of.

We learned three new names even some drug officers had never heard of: Flakka, Strawberry Quick, and 2C-E.

"A big way that I try to stay away from it is with my friends and which friends I choose. I try to surround myself with people that are positive influences," said Dayton Seabaugh.

"We do our best to let the kids know we care and get their parents involved at Notre Dame," said Al Spencer of Campus Security.

He has an extensive background in Criminal Justice and law enforcement.

Spencer educates parents in mandatory meetings before prom and graduation to let them know what's out there, what questions to ask, and what signs to look for.

Spencer explains they haven't seen these drugs at Notre Dame and they hope they never do, that's why they work to go the extra mile.

"We talk about marijuana and what it could be laced with," said Spencer. "That's the real danger with pot now is that the kind of stuff that's out there is often laced with something else. We talk about heroine and show them what it could look like. We talk about prescription drug use and why it's so easy for things to fly under a parent's radar. Our parents are always so involved and engaged."

Spencer and police officers say signs to look for include missing pills, sneaky or unusual behavior, drops in grades or sudden withdrawal from family and friends.

Police say pill bottles should be kept under lock and key.

Officers say with all the new substances out there many come disguised with names that may sound like something safe or even like candy.

They also say many new drugs are hard to spot by appearance, so it's key for parents to ask questions if they see any pills or substances that appear suspicious at all.

When it comes to behavior, drug agents say "Flakka" leaves an effect that's similar to bath salts only more severe on some levels.

Overdoses are common for first time users.

"Strawberry quick" usually looks like red candy or pop rocks but hit uses with a high similar to crystal meth.

2C-E brings a behavior similar to LSD and causes severe hallucinations.

Fentanyl Patch Abuse is also becoming prevalent. Fentanyl can go by street names like "China Girl," "Murder 8," "Tango & Cash," "Dance Fever," and "Jackpot."

"We let parents know they need to be involved, ask questions, and what kind of trouble they or their kids can get into if they allow or use alcohol or drugs," said Spencer.

At Notre Dame they know prom night can be a prime time for kids to try new things for the first time they've engaged in Project Prom for years now. It's a safe lock-in held at the bowling alley. There's games and even a hypnotist.

Parents often take part and get a phone call if their child signed up and leaves.

"It's a lot of fun," said Tyler Schumacker who went to Project Prom last year. "It was a great time with friends and it comforted my parents knowing I was in a safe place. I was surprised at how much fun it was and I didn't want to leave."

The students and parents say they like having a positive alternative.

"We have so many choices to make in High School," said Lisanne Holterman. "It's great to know we have a safe, fun thing to do and that our advisors care about us and we can't wait. We've been looking forward to prom for a long time and we know it will be a great night. I'm excited."

Angela Schaefer is on staff at Notre Dame and was involved in starting the first Project Prom years ago.

"Before prom night was always thought of as a night for drinking and parties but now this takes pressure off of our students because they have a safe place to go," said Schaefer. "It it a huge comfort to our parents to and many of them help plan and attend Project Prom."

Amy Worley remembers attending one of those first Project Proms at Notre Dame, and now her own children attend.

"It's just so comforting to know that they have a safe place to go and the kids have a great time," said Worley. "We really encourage the kids to come and most of them do."

Students, teachers and drug agents say the parental involvement is the true key to make sure everyone a safe night that's unforgettable.

"My mom always asks me where I am going and has me check in with her and it makes me feel good knowing she care," said Schumacker.

"I'm so excited," said Shelby Heckert. "My mom will be there. We spend half our year planning for prom and also Project Prom and I just can't wait to make those memories with my friends."

Many others schools also host Project Prom or safe parties for prom night and graduation.

Police say four out of 10 crashes that happen on prom or graduation nights involve alcohol or drugs.

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