By Martha Jacob – Ripley Bee
The principal of Ripley Union Lewis Huntington Middle School, Chris Smith, invited several special visitors to speak to all the students at his school about the dangers of drugs and the importance of doing well in school.
Brown County Juvenile Court Judge Danny Bubp opened a special program Friday afternoon, April 22 in the school gymnasium in front of over 290 students.
The kids heard from Bubp, Franco Santoriello, world champion body builder, Jill Light with Child Focus and the Brown County Sheriff Elect Gordon Ellis.
Bubp opened the program by asking if any of the students knew who he was. “I am the Brown County Court Juvenile Judge,” Bubp began, “We are here today to provide some information to all you kids that hopefully, will help you all in the future to make good decisions.
“We want to talk about attending school and doing well in school, but most importantly to stay away from drugs.”
Judge Bubp told the students what was happening in Pike County regarding the murder of eight people. He told them that the basis of the killings was most likely drug related.
At that point he introduced Franco Santoriello and told the kids that he used to arm wrestle Arnold Schwarzenegger and beat him.
During Santoriello’s talk, pictures of him were being shown on a screen behind him, of when he was ‘Mr. America’ twenty-five years ago, and four years prior when he was ‘Teenage America.’ He was also the teenage body building champion of the world.
“I want you to see another picture of me now,” Santoriello told the kids, “This picture (he said, pointing to a picture of himself on the screen) was taken five years ago when I got arrested and convicted of drug charges and spent three years in the penitentiary.”
A silence fell over the crowd and Santoriello continued.
“I was like the Michael Jordan of the body building world,” he said, “I had so much potential, and such a great future ahead of me. But using drugs in my life changed all that. And it all started with marijuana, and then I started drinking, drinking a lot. If you kids choose that path of using drugs, eventually you’re going to get put into the system.’
He spoke for several minutes about how he has once again turned his life around and hopes none of the students in that gymnasium would ever ruin their lives by using drugs.
Following Santoriello’s comments, Ellis took the microphone and told the students that he started out in a school about the size of the middle school and worked hard to get where he is today. He said he spent many years in the military, but drugs could have derailed his career at any time.
Ellis talked briefly about marijuana and its effects, and how it often leads to other, stronger drugs, which is why it is often referred to as a gateway drug. He said he can protect people from almost everything, but they have to protect themselves from drugs.
Jill Light spoke briefly to the students about learning how to deal with problems and how problems can affect different people differently. She explained the effects of trauma and how she is always available for the students to talk to about any issues in their lives.
Judge Bubp ended the program by discussing the school AAA Program which stands for Attendance, Attitude and Academics. He encouraged the kids to attend school every day, listen to their teachers, and study to keep their grades up.
Judge Bubp said he would be visiting every school in Brown County in the upcoming weeks to discuss the drug problem.