It was a three day opportunity for 38 Deer River High School (DRHS) students to make a difference, a way to rise up among their peers and pave the way to a positive path and a way to be a part of The Movement. The Movement is a new phenomenon making its way through the Deer River school district. It’s made up of Independent School District (ISD) 317 youth and a group of parents, business owners, and community members who make up the STEP (Standing Together Embracing Prevention) Coalition. The coalitions goal is to delay and reduce alcohol use in area youth. The Movement, STEP Coalition and the student leadership retreat are funded by a $1 million grant through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS-ADAD).
The nearly 40 students, made up of 7th through 12th graders, gathered June 11th-13th at Quadna Resort in Hill City to participate in the leadership retreat specifically to be trained on how to lead their peers in the area of drug and alcohol prevention. "We were thrilled at the number of students who participated in the retreat! We feel as though the students were very engaged and excited to learn about the results of the student survey taken earlier by Deer River High School students," said Heather Schjenken.
Schjenken, the youth leader and a chaperone at the retreat, is referring to a student survey taken by DRHS students in February of this year. The survey was a way for leaders to measure how much drug and alcohol use is actually occurring within the student body. Teen leaders were able to see the results of those surveys and then were trained on how to be positive and impactful in their community. "Not only did the students get the chance to learn some leadership skills and build some cohesiveness among them, but we also took the opportunity to teach them about Positive Community Norms, environmental strategies and how to make a difference in their school and community," said Planning and Implementation Coordinator (P&I Coordinator) Ann Koetz.
For the adults involved in The Movement, the retreat was a step to develop a core group of dedicated kids committed to being a positive young person in the community and to believe in the commitment of drug and alcohol prevention among area youth. The results of February’s survey revealed that most DRHS students are not drinking alcohol and doing drugs and that most of them want to be good role models for the younger generation following in their footsteps.
Inspirational speaker, Craig Hillier from Winning Edge Seminars in the Twin Cities, opened the retreat. There were also six adult chaperones to oversee the students as they worked in groups to understand the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), identified their own values and traits that contribute to being leaders and got to know each other better by playing the Name Game. Those chaperones were Schjenken and Koetz along with Tanis Henderson, Chad Evans, Lance Schjenken and Ryan Gunderson. Regional Prevention Coordinator, Laura Bennett also attended the retreat.
If you would like to be a part of The Movement you may contact P&I Coordinator Ann Koetz by calling 246-8241 ext. 206 or emailing .