Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES once again hosted a regional SADD conference.
One of the key features of this year’s conference, titled Blue Skies Smilin’ At Me
, was a memorial exhibit that has strong ONC BOCES roots. The event Tuesday, March 8 was organized and sponsored by LEAF, the Leatherstocking Education on Alcoholism/Addictions Foundation; SADD; and Otsego County Stop-DWI.
The Amy Stock Memorial was on display in the Natural Resource Occupations area at Otsego Area Occupational Center in Milford. Not only did the SADD conference attendees have a chance to examine the memorial, OAOC students did as well.
School districts that sent SADD chapters included Oneonta, Cherry Valley-Springfield, Edmeston, Franklin, Schenevus, Cooperstown, Laurens and Richfield Springs.
“We have between 80 and 90 students coming in with their advisors, so we probably have over 100 people. The funding for this conference comes from the Stop-DWI coordinator,” LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal said as the conference got underway.
SADD students were able to attend three different workshops and hear from keynote speaker, Marianne Angelillo, who lost her 17-year-old son to drunk driving.
“They get to hear about different ways to make safe, healthy decisions and interact with each other and other SADD chapters,” Dostal said. “We rarely get the opportunity to interact with so many students at one time and this is the highlight of our year.”
Dostal praised ONC BOCES for allowing the event to occur at OAOC.
“ONC BOCES has hosted us now for four years in a row, and they allow us this awesome space to bring students to a central location that is an educational environment,” she said.
One of the key features of this year’s conference was the Amy Stock Memorial. The memorial displays the car driven by Amy Stock, a Capital Region environmentalist and professor, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver on July 19, 2015 in Albany.
Working with Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin, who is the county’s Stop-DWI coordinator, Stock’s family embarked on a mission to preserve the car in some fashion in order to educate the public about the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
ONC BOCES Automotive Tech. students were enlisted to prep the car for permanent display in a trailer outfitted and built by Medical Coaches of Oneonta. The memorial has audio and visual components and some of Amy’s personal memorabilia, including photos and a pair of ice skates. A bouquet of dried roses adorns the driver’s side of the car, which is encased on three sides by glass panels, giving an intimate view of the wrecked vehicle.
The impact on the SADD and ONC BOCES students, many of whom were seeing the memorial for the first time Tuesday, was very clear.
Dostal said that in addition to the ever-present risk of drunk driving, there are other issues that are on the forefront for LEAF and SADD.
“In this area, we know that there is a very significant opioid epidemic going on with the heroin and prescription painkillers. Right now, we haven’t seen, thankfully, a great deal of that in the student population,” Dostal said. “It’s primarily in the 20s and 30s, but where it impacts the students are with parents. We have seen students whose parents are affected, including parents who have died due to opioid overdose.”
But one thing that is on the rise among students is marijuana use, according to Dostal. Several states have moved in recent years to legalize marijuana, for medical uses, as well as recreational use.
“The more they hear about reduction of risk, the more they tend to pick something up, ” Dostal said.