"The guest speaker for this year's event was Patrick B Boy Pacman Perez, who teaches empowerment through break dance," said Elaine Boles, SADD advisor. "He was really good."
Perez's address focused on drug and alcohol prevention and the importance of education and positive goal-setting.
CHS SADD members who attended the event had the opportunity to take part in a variety of workshops. Session topics included: alcohol energy drinks; signs of suicide; and risky relationships.
"They could also attend a workshop that taught them how to talk to legislators," said Boles. "The workshop was called My Voice is MAD. Another workshop focused on the latest adolescent drugs that are being abused."
Students also visited local state legislators during the youth conference. Freshmen students Erica Brattin and Emily Cooper discussed bills with Rep. David Sater and Sen. Jack Goodman.
"Erica talked about House Bill 314, which addresses tobacco use on public school property," said Boles. "The bill prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco products on all school property."
Cooper spoke to Goodman about Senate Bill 607, which requires welfare recipients to undergo drug testing if a caseworker finds there is "reasonable suspicion" they are using or have used drugs.
"If the individual tests positive for drugs, they will receive no funding for three years," said Boles. "This bill also ensures that children will continue to receive funding and authorizes the assignment of a mediator responsible for overseeing the use of the child's funds."
Brattin and Cooper selected and studied the bills before attending the Speak Hard Conference.
"They made sure that they knew the bills inside and out," said Boles. "They even researched why the bills were important. Sen. Goodman gave Emily a good 20 minutes of his time. He even left the Senate floor to speak with her. He said he was very impressed with her presentation.
"He encouraged all the students to study the bills and candidates running for public office," said Boles. "He told them that the easiest way for them to help their communities was to vote when they are the age to do so."
Students who attended this year's Speak Hard Conference were: Brittney Farris, Miranda Gaches, Mikhaila Burbridge, Jordan Libertus, Brittany Clark, Marissa Tucker, Brattin and Cooper.
Boles and Cassville DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) Officer Jennifer Luckey also attended the event.