Conquest program encourages HHS freshmen to make smart choices

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Helena High School freshmen are at an exciting point in their lives as they navigate through the next few years of high school making friends and challenging themselves academically, but unfortunately, plenty of temptations also lie ahead.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, members from the Conquest program traveled to Helena High School to share a few personal stories and perform skits about making good life choices to the HHS freshmen.

The Conquest program travels across the country to speak to students in all grade levels on topics that include making smart choices, peer pressure, substance abuse, bullying and more.

The assembly on Oct. 26, specifically focused on relationships and how crucial it is for students to surround themselves with friends that strive to make good life choices.

One skit in particular focused on a young man at the scene of a house party where he was surrounded by people taking drugs and drinking alcohol. He was sitting on the couch and every time he attempted to get up to leave, a bungee cord would pull him back into the situation. The skit was titled “The Draw,” and resembled the feeling that many students and young adults face in that they can’t break free from addiction and constantly feel themselves being pulled back into the same situation.

Conquest Program Director Amber Gaddis was at the assembly and shared that members of the Conquest team, including herself, have had to overcome obstacles.

“I’ve been traveling all over the United States for the past nine years talking to students about the value of making good choices,” Gaddis said. “Each and every one of us on this Conquest team have had to make decisions and choices to get ourselves out of maybe situations that weren’t good. We’re not here as perfect people telling you ‘Hey do better.’”

Gaddis told a story about one of her best friends in high school who went out and after a heavy night of drinking, had to be rushed to the hospital. Her friend was on the verge of death but made it to the hospital in time. Unfortunately, her friend lost her scholarship offers because of the incident and the dreams she had for the future.

“Friends that aren’t there for you in hard moments and just pushing you to the side aren’t friends at all,” Gaddis said. “You choose now in ninth grade to not drink and to not do drugs and to say I’m holding out for my future because I want something better. You’re going to be way more successful than you have ever imagined.”

The Conquest program was part of the week-long Red Ribbon Week campaign, which encourages participation in drug prevention activities.