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Changing Attitudes
 
A New View on Problems Found in Schools
Salisbury Post February 16, 2008
By Holly Fesperman Lee

A North Rowan graduate visited his former high school Friday to try to help students there overcome problems he remembers facing when he sat in their seats. Dr. Chad Costantino, a recovered addict, graduated from North Rowan High School in 1993. He now holds a doctorate in counseling and works with children and teenagers at Abundant Life Counseling Center in Kernersville.

Costantino used unusual props Friday to get his point across. Students entered the auditorium to see a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a casket down front. Costantino told students he was a former addict but he was given a second chance at life. Now he wants to help others learn to get back up when they fall down from wrong choices. "I hope something that's said will inspire you," he said.

"Every 16 minutes a teenager takes their life," he told students as he pointed out the casket. Costantino told students the most important thing in a person's life is the dash mark between the date they are born and the date they die. As soon as he graduated from North Rowan, one of his best friends died in a car accident, Costantino said. "Life is short; you're not promised tomorrow. Be inspired to do something with your life," he said. "I want to be honest with you. I'm a recovered drug addict. I want you to know this because in life you will make mistakes," he said. "When you stand up after you fall down, that is a sign of an amazing leader that can change the world."

Costantino urged students not to give up, no matter what they may be experiencing. "Don't be a statistic that takes his own life," he said. Costantino used his Harley to help students remember his next few points. He told them "Harley" stood for:

H:  Honor the authorities above.
A:  Anger is not the answer.
R:  Run toward your goals.
L:  Let's work together.
E:  Encourage each other
Y:  You have the power to make a difference in the world.

As he was talking about goals, he called for student volunteers. Tenth grader Geair Hendrick went up to the front with seniors Stephanie Applebee and Hennessy McLaurin. He asked the students what they wanted to do. Sports analyst, teacher and actress were their choices. "When we set a goal, we're walking," he said as he asked Geair to walk in place. "When we write it down or tell people about it, we're jogging," he said. Stephanie started jogging. "When you go after your goal, you're running," he said. Students laughed and clapped as Hennessy started running around the auditorium.

Costantino pointed to the casket that Linn-Honeycutt Funeral Home provided and told students he wanted to use it in his presentation because "a lot of people will choose to take their anger to the next level." Sometimes young people who are angry may beat someone or pull a knife or gun, only intending to scare someone, but things end up much worse. "Anger leads to more suffering," he said.

Costantino encouraged students to make a difference now by volunteering with a YMCA or other service club. He encouraged them to trust their teachers, parents and other authority figures. "You are warriors. The battlefield is life," he said. "I need you out there fighting to make a difference."

» Read this article at Salisbury Post
 

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