Before synthetic drugs like K2 and bath salts became the focus of protests, news reports and state legislation, three students at David Crockett High School were already well-aware of the dangers the substances can cause when taken.
That’s why Kaitlyn Lefevers, Marina Kerr and Lauren Lefler decided to do something about it by creating a public service announcement that could be shown to their peers, detailing how one bad trip could lead to the grave.
“I can’t imagine kids as young as me going into a mental facility and having no recollection of anything that’s happened and never being the same,” Lefevers said. “That just really bothered me, especially since I had friends who have been stupid enough to do it.”
The three students were approached last month by DCHS interactive multimedia and statistics teacher Bob St. John with the idea of creating a video that would show the potential effects of synthetic drugs, and the girls immediately jumped at the opportunity.
Using the tagline “The trip is not worth the destination,” the three students began working with St. John’s core concept as they wrote a script and set up filming locations at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. About a week later, the video was shot, edited and shown at a school assembly.
“As teenagers, everybody thinks we’re invincible and they don’t think about, ‘Well, I’m just going to go smoke this once.’ Yeah, that one time you smoke it could be the one time you end up in Woodridge and you never get back out,” Lefevers said.
That’s exactly why the students chose to tell the story from the perspective of someone who was under of influence of a synthetic drug. Portions of EMT calls can be heard while the video jumps from a jail cell to the emergency room before finally ending a gravesite.
Lefevers, Kerr and Lefler each read statistics about the substances before the PSA comes to a close, ending the video with some information for students to think about.
“You need to think about not only the effect it has on you but also the effect it has on other people,” Kerr said.
Choosing to tell the story the way they did was important for the students, especially considering just how much their peers were talking about or using synthetic drugs.
The creation of the PSA came at a time when the Tennessee House passed a bill that would make it a felony to make or sell synthetic drugs.
The controversial substances are still available in surrounding states, but the students hope their video will at least make their peers think twice before trying the materials on their own.
“I want them to know as much as they can about it, so they know what they’re getting themselves into. They can’t throw the blame on other people,” Lefler said.
After seeing the final product and how the school and area law enforcement plan to use the video in the future, St. John said he’s proud of the students for their work in trying to help fellow classmates.
“I think it’s great that they have that kind of civic responsibility. They care about their classmates. They’ve seen their classmates make stupid decisions, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or just not being responsible in a vehicle. When they were given the concept, they thought, ‘Great, let’s do this,’ ” he said.