By Christelle Glaudin ’19 and Rubiyah Chaudhry ’19
In today’s society, adolescents are struggling with several emotional and psychological issues. Many of these individuals unfortunately resort to substance abuse to cope with their problems. The Seeking Prevention And Reinforcing Knowledge program (SPARK) informs students about the alternatives to drug abuse.
The SPARK counselor, Ms. Tatiana Rodriguez, provides students with resources and assistance to reduce and prevent drug and alcohol usage in her office in room B56.
Ms. Rodriguez said, “ For example if a student smokes marijuana five times a week, with my assistance I can help them cut down to one to two times a week. Ultimately they would stop using it and become completely sober.”
If the student has a major addiction issue, the SPARK program provides them with community resources to help the student find a treatment facility.
The SPARK program also targets students who don’t use drugs. They are provided with the necessary information to help them maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Ms. Rodriguez stated, “For the students who don’t use drugs at all and they’re dealing with peer pressure or they feel any type of pressure to drink alcohol or to smoke. If they are provided with drug prevention education and resources as far as attending groups or meeting with me one to one, they will be less likely to experiment with drugs.”
In order to connect with the students, Ms. Rodriguez creates a comfortable environment in which students can openly discuss a variety of topics. This includes relationships issues, peer pressure, current events and familial issues.
“Ms. Rodriguez is a very nice, helpful and caring. She asks how you are the moment you come in, and everyone comes out smiling despite the way they come in,” said Dondre Alleyne ’18.
Another student, Marlie Adrien ’20 said, “It’s a non-judge-mental environment. It’s welcoming and you meet new people. We have discussions that are relevant to the problems of your average teenager. You get good advice about a variety of problems.”
Ms. Rodriguez extends her services through classroom presentations, small group discussions, and one-to-one talks. It’s up to the student to decide how they will like to be serviced. Each student is given their desired level of privacy.
“For me, the SPARK program is like a safe house for me and I feel very welcomed to express my ideas” said Savon Holder ’18.
Ms. Rodriguez stated, “What we discuss is confidential. I respect you and you respect me.”
In the near future, Ms. Rodriguez hopes to extend the program by making it more interactive and having students hear from other individuals,
Ms. Rodriguez said, “I would also like to extend the SPARK program by adding field trips and have people from community and from different companies gives speeches about leadership skills, bullying, character building skills, and etc”.
These additions to the SPARK program will help students to better contribute to their community.
If you are a student who is struggling with drug addiction, familial issues and/or school-related issues please do not hesitate to visit Ms. Rodriguez in her office.