It's common for high school athletes and their parents to attend meetings before the start of every sports season when their coaches and school administrators warn about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
This year in Glenbard High School District 87, officials are bringing in some big names to spread that message -- and they say it comes at a time as important as ever. The public also is invited to attend.
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The first two Glenbard fall sport parent and athlete meetings kick off Wednesday night in Glen Ellyn at two schools -- Glenbard West and Glenbard South -- with a presentation at each school from psychologist Aaron White, an author and researcher who has explored the effects of alcohol on the brain.
On Thursday, Northwestern University's new head basketball coach, Chris Collins, will discuss "The Responsibilities of Being an Athlete" at Glenbard East.
And next Tuesday at Glenbard North, Lake County Associate Circuit Court Judge Chris Stride will discuss the 2007 trial he presided over in which a Deerfield couple was held liable for allowing an underage drinking party at their home. Two teens who were at that party later died in a drunken driving crash.
"I have a sense that all of us are coming together on the same page about the responsibilities we have dealing with youth and helping them make decisions, because the challenges are so great nowadays," said Gilda Ross, Glenbard's student and community projects coordinator, who is organizing the speakers programs. "Read a newspaper -- you can see this is a challenging time for young people around alcohol and other drugs. I think these people are very impassioned to do anything they can to get this very lifesaving message out to young people and their families."
For some time, Glenbard has required all athletes and their parents to attend sessions on drug and alcohol awareness as a "best practices" approach, officials said.
Outside speakers are sometimes brought in to address students and parents at each school, but the notoriety of this year's speakers is perhaps more pronounced.
Ross said district officials decided to "dial it up a notch" by partnering with the Glenbard Parent Series, the district's monthly speaker program that has often featured experts who discuss alcohol and drug use among teens.
In fact, White, a program director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, presented at Glenbard South in March.
"You have a judge who has made some landmark decisions around parents, teens, parties and alcohol," Ross said. "You have a basketball coach at the college level who's in a good place to be talking about this topic. And you have a researcher who's spent his life doing research on alcohol's effects on the brain.
"We understand what a great opportunity this is when the parent series collaborates with the athletic departments."
White will speak at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium at Glenbard West, 670 Crescent Blvd., Glen Ellyn. He will then travel to Glenbard South, 23W200 Butterfield Road, for a 7:30 p.m. presentation in the auditorium.
Collins will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at Glenbard East, 1014 S. Main St., Lombard.
Stride will speak at 6 p.m. Aug. 27 in the auditorium at Glenbard North, 990 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream.