New Hampshire’s ‘Drug Free Is Up To Me’ Virtual Youth Summit


Students watching the virtual summit

Santino DeFilippo, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, November 23, broadcasted the first “New Hampshire Drug Free Is Up To Me Virtual Summit”. The summit featured numerous guests, such as DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, DEA Deputy Jon DeLena, and governor Chris Sununu. GHS alumni Aron Silvestre and a number of current GHS students from the music department performed during the introduction to the live stream, which was hosted by drug-free rapper Dee-1. Special guest Mark Wahlberg surprised the audience with an appearance through Zoom. 

This presentation’s goal was to raise awareness for drug use in New Hampshire, specifically drug use by teens. Parents of children affected by drug use spoke about their child’s experience. Kay Scarpone, the mother of a four-year Marine veteran, Joseph, spoke of his passing four years after his military service in 2015 due to a combination of drug use and PTSD. A selection of current and former high school students, like Goffstown’s own Aron Silvestre, were brought onto a panel to discuss drug/substance abuse and their choice to stay away from it. 

Was this presentation effective, though? Some students, like senior Athan Cote, say otherwise. As the overall message was surely conveyed, Athan thinks it was more of the same stuff he has been constantly hearing through his schooling at Goffstown. “Most of it felt geared towards younger children,”  he explained. “It doesn’t really fit with high school students. It mostly felt like filler.” Another senior, Emily Hughes, noted that “it was a good effort by the Mark Wahlberg Foundation to raise awareness, but I don’t think it was effective for high school students.” Athan further believes we could’ve made a better use of time through something like a school-specific presentation, where the Goffstown district itself would’ve had the ability to elaborate more on information that students may not have been previously exposed to. Having students like Aron appearing in the stream grabbed Athan’s attention, because he “recognized this person.” More friendly faces that students recognize would be much more effective in a stream like this, and in future years of this virtual summit, many students like Athan hope to see a change like this made.