GRAVES COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - Graves County Middle School eighth grade students recently participated in "Truth and Consequences: The Choice is Yours."
"Each student is given a real life scenario. Most of them are centered on drugs – legal and illegal substances," said GCMS Youth Services Center director Jean Ann Miller. "They go through every step of the consequences they would have to face, if they got in trouble. We have the jailer, the judge, the district attorney, and others. Many of them are the actual people who hold those jobs. The students see attorneys, hospital workers, drug counselors, and others to face their charges and try to correct their lives. It's ideal for parents to go through this program with their children; but not all parents can be here because of their jobs. So, we have an adult to go through the process with each student."
"I'm actually filling in the role of country attorney," said David Hargrove, who serves as commonwealth attorney and as attorney for the Graves County Board of Education, "but some of these charges ultimately might come up me through the higher court because they're felonies."
The slip of paper, then found themselves seated across a table from Hargove, examining options.
"They learn what penalties they face and what options are available, but these charges often stay on their records," Hargove explained about the game and its parallel version in real life. "I think this exercise is intended to make the kids aware of the choices they make and what could happen. The reality is that there is a fear factor because a person has unlimited options until there's a problem and then their options are much more narrow. That's a situation you never want to be in – someone else controlling the choices you make in your life. I think it starts here in middle school and even earlier. They have to know what is potentially out there."
"I've recently become a teacher at our church for the middle and high school kids. I have two teenaged girls who I've been strict with and done everything I could to help them turn out right," Genanatti explained. "But now, these kids in my class confide in me and tell me it's so easy to get a hold of drugs and it's not just the so-called 'bad' kids who are doing it. It's even the 'good' kids who want to be included because 'everybody's doing it,' they want to tell you. So, my teaching them right from wrong, they get bored with it. This scenario is so realistic! We saw a girl handcuffed and put in an orange jump suit earlier. This entire day makes it all seem very realistic."
The Graves County Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention funded the program. Project coordinator Lauren Carr said the program resulted from curriculum from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
"Half of eighth graders participated today; the other half will go through it in February. We had to split it because our student body is so large," said Kim Wheeler, community education director for the Mayfield and Graves County public schools. "We want to thank all the community volunteers who have come in to participate. We couldn't have done it without them!"
"I've seen scenarios today where a friend makes bad choices and doesn't want to own up to it and then the person who isn't really the instigator is brought into the situation and gets into trouble. I see this kind of thing happening every day," Hargrove noted. "If kids can understand what's involved and make the best choices, then it's worth it. I've seen a lot of them come through here today and many already know what to avoid; but every once in a while you see the light come on for a kid and they realize what's at stake."