Healthy Lifestyles assemblies enlighten students


Jonathan Kriney

As part of a day of motivational assemblies on Feb. 23, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School saw four different presentations based on grade level.
Seniors learned an important lesson about responsible driving through the inspiring story of Middlesex resident and Rutgers alum Gabe Hurley.
In June of 2009, Hurley left his house for a quick run to CVS. On that drive, his car collided with another car full of J.P. Stevens students.  During the collision, a 10 lb AC compressor flew from the high schooler’s car through Hurley’s windshield at over 100 mph, colliding directly with his face.
As a result, he was completely blinded, and also lost his sense of smell.  Since the crash, Hurley has undergone over 40 hours of surgery and over 20 hours of dental work.
It was later discovered that the car full of high school students was driving at about 65 mph in a 35 mph zone, because of distracted driving and pressure to show off.
Hurley provided a clear message about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving, and urged all students to take their new privilege seriously. Now that most seniors have licenses and cars of their own, his message could not have been more relevant.
“This could have been prevented, but it happened,” said Hurley. “Please drive safely.”

Students listen to Hurley as he discusses reckless driving. The presenter was blinded in a life-changing car accident.

photos by Jon Kriney

SPF Juniors watched an assembly about human trafficking delivered by FBI agent Kayla Muñoz and members of Project Gold, a classroom founded organization dedicated to the prevention of human trafficking. Muñoz spoke about her experiences as a Victim Specialist in an Innocence Lost Task Force rescuing minors and spreading awareness. The Project Gold delegates– Andrew Del Rosario, Jessica Competiello and Ina Joseph– spoke about the beginnings of their movement in a Jefferson Township classroom.
“This is something relevant to our generation,” said Joseph. “That’s what I want students to take away.”
Three inmates from the New Jersey Department of Corrections came to the high school to tell their stories to sophomores. One by one, they explained where they had gone wrong in high school, and what they had lost as a result.
Sam was a star athlete and member of the National Honor Society, but killed a woman while driving drunk and was arrested. Summer got involved with a heroin addict, and got addicted herself, leading to her imprisonment. Connor was another athlete who got drunk at a party and crashed a car, severely injuring him, and killing his best friend Francis who was sitting in the passenger seat.
All three of them were arrested in their late teens, and are currently in their early 20s with time left to serve. After telling their stories, Sam, Summer and Connor took questions from the sophomores until the assembly ended. Their visit was a part of Project P.R.I.D.E (Promoting Responsibility in Drug Education) a program which has been around since 1998 in New Jersey to discourage drug use in high schools.
Freshmen viewed Dr. Mikey Fowler, as he grabbed the audience’s attention by playing a variety of characters all while sending out messages to the crowd.  In the ninth-grade assembly Fowler focused on perspective and how important it is not to judge someone based on looks.  
He told the audience that the presentation was called “I am not the enemy” because of the way people quickly assume to block others out from not looking and acting one way.  Fowler sends positive messages that inspire kids to make healthier lifestyle choices and he serves as a great role model for young adults.  
Although his words and characters may be dark he is able to instantly lighten the mood with his sense of wit and shining personality.  Each short story and character played leads into another character and story.  Fowler’s understanding and interest in young adult’s lives is what makes him captivating and alluring.