As an effort to support drug education and prevention in local students, the Palestine Lions Club honored three Palestine Middle School students who wrote winning essays about the issue during their weekly meeting Thursday at Meadowbrook Country Club.

Part of the Lion’s Effort Against Drugs (LEAD) program, the essay contest is held each year for middle school and junior high school students. Students are judged for their essays locally, with cash prizes being awarded to winners.

For their essays on the topic “What Causes Adolescent Substance Abuse and How Can We Prevent It?” winners Ashleigh Dodson, Clay Curley and Katie Webb were awarded with $100, $75 and $50 respectively.

First place winner Dodson read her essay during Thursday’s meeting, which stated that the reason students turned to substance abuse is because they feel they have no one else to turn to.

“When you’re dealing with a bad family life, problems with other kids at school and everything else kids deal with every day all you want is a way to relieve some of that stress,” Dodson explained. “If someone offers you something that can clear your mind and make your problems go away for a little while, it’s hard to convince yourself to say no.”

Her solution to the problem included offering peer counseling for issues the student may face.

“I think the best way to control substance abuse among kids today would be to concentrate more on teaching the kids how to deal with their problems, how to help their friends deal with theirs,” she said. “....They’ll most likely talk to their friends, and if their friends don’t help they’ll probably turn to something else to relive it for the time.”

Palestine Middle School language arts teacher Sara Briley also was honored for her efforts in encouraging the students to participate in the contest. The local essay judge was Peggy Wyatt.

LEAD was founded in 1989 as a separate nonprofit corporation within Lion’s District 2-X3, to which the Palestine Lion’s Club belongs.

In addition to the annual essay contest LEAD has sponsored several drug education and prevention programs including Lion’s Quest teacher training workshops, the McGruff “Help Take a Bite Out of Crime” program.

Dodson’s essay will advance to the district level, with winners of that contest being announced at the district mid-winter conference in January.


Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at

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