Wakefield High School, Raleigh, NC – February 8, 2012
Wakefield High School has produced two documentaries in the last five years that have been called “exceptional teaching tools for all teens.”

The school’s JUST THINK FIRST Program is pleased to be able to provide copies of both videos to all high schools in NC. The newest video, JUST THINK FIRST – personal responsibility focuses on the topic of teen drug use and follows the original one made in 2007 on drinking and driving. JUST THINK FIRST – personal responsibility tells the story of what happened to one Wakefield student and his family while educating viewers on the impact drugs and alcohol have on our youth today. Viewers immediately recognize that the stories from these videos are real, noting they share what has happened to real people; rather, teens who were attending high school. As a teaching tool, this fact is compelling, and as a result, the lessons being taught about both personal responsibility and choice are greatly enhanced.

“The JUST THINK FIRST Program seeks to raise awareness on various topics that affect teens in society today including violence, sex, drugs, alcohol, gangs and negative peer pressure. Through education, we continue to be committed in our efforts to provide powerful messages to students regarding the safe and responsible choices they can make” noted Dr. Vivian Wells, Assistant Principal at Wakefield. “To be a part of this video was an awesome experience,” said Daniel Zulkowski, one of the student actors, “and I hope it helps students learn more about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.”

How did the JUST THINK FIRST Program come about?
Recognized as an academic School of Distinction, Wakefield has also won honors and awards in athletics, including state titles in boys’ basketball and girls’ track. A typical American high school; the student body is close and the parents and community are supportive and involved.

Despite all of this, Wakefield has suffered an alarming number of student deaths due to drug trafficking, speed racing, drinking and driving, and more. Between 2005 and 2007, nine students died. One student, an Eagle Scout and member of the school band, was found dead in the trunk of his car after his first year of college. He had been duct-taped and set on fire…murdered because of a drug deal gone bad. Eight students died in five separate automobile accidents and sadly, more students were left permanently impaired in additional accidents. As a result of poor decisions, one single driving accident took the lives of four senior boys who were returning home from a regional basketball play-off game. This particular accident received much media attention; but it was all of the accidents and the loss of so many young lives in less than 24 months that put the Wakefield community in a state of shock and disbelief.

“Many organizations and people in the community reached out to Wakefield after the deaths of our students offering support and assistance with money, time, materials, and programs. We received a grant from the Wake County New Vehicle Dealers’ Association and working in conjunction with this group, produced a documentary entitled JUST THINK FIRST – choices count. We released this documentary in spring 2007 and provided copies to school systems in North Carolina. The JUST THINK FIRST Program was officially born at this point in time,” stated Sandy Gasper, former PTSA President.

Use of the videos –
The JUST THINK FIRST Program offers these videos to all NC high schools as resources and teaching tools to be used in driver education classes, school assemblies, and other programs deemed appropriate. By sharing Wakefield’s stories and providing a powerful reality check for viewers, the goal is to raise awareness on the societal ills that affect our teens.

Contact information & funding – Both the original and new videos are available for purchase on the website, www.justhinkfirst.com. Funding for the program comes primarily from grants, Wakefield’s 5K Road Race and The Skinny Turkey Half Marathon (both races are held in the fall of the year).

Debbie Albritton, WHS JTF Committee – dalbritton@wcpss.net – 562-3600
Sandy Gasper, WHS PTSA – tgasper@nc.rr.com – 757-5942
Dr. Vivian Wells, WHS Assistant Principal – vcwells@wcpss.net – 562-3606