Student anti-drinking push

Students at two local high schools are raising awareness about the dangers of teen drinking in the Throggs Neck community.

Leaders of the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership, an organization dedicated to the prevention of teen drinking and drug abuse, met with students in Lehman’s Arista Honors Society Program on Monday, April 29 before they went with a teacher to visit stores along E. Tremont Avenue that sell beer and alcohol.

Also joining in the “bottle tagging” expedition were student and teachers from Preston High School.

Lehman students Kimberly Cionca, Jay Soni, Markens Pierre, and Christopher Gayle, went “bottle-tagging” with their teacher Anthony Cerini.

Students from both schools placed tags designed by TNCAP on bottles of alcoholic beverage that remind adults not to buy alcohol for minors, and merchants not to sell to minors.

“This gives the students the ability to realize that their voices are heard, and that is really important,” said Cerini. “One of the biggest things we struggle with is empowering the students, and having them realize that it is important for them to stand up and have their voices heard.”

Before the Lehman students visited businesses – which gave them permission to place the tags on some of the beverages for sale – there was a meet-and-greet at Lehman that included TNCAP’s executive director Frances Maturo, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, TNCAP’s Janet Bliss, Lehman principal Rose LoBianco, and representatives from Congressman Joseph Crowley and State Senator Jeff Klein’s offices.

LoBianco called the “bottle-tagging” an opportunity for the students to engage the community and its merchants.

It also relates to the school curriculum and Common Core Learning Standards, she added, helping the students research and advocate for a particular cause, in this case, under-age drinking.

“These young people are certainly raising awareness of the theme of teen drinking, both in our school and the community,” said LoBianco. “I think that their involvement in this issue speaks volumes to the community and the merchants.”

Vacca called the students’ efforts a tangible example of how young people can help draw attention to laws on the books.

“What the young people are doing further brings the merchants into the process, and if you are talking stopping sale of liquor to minors, the merchants are very important,” said Vacca. “We need them to be part of the solution.”

For bottle-tagger Kim Cionca, 17, the activity had personal meaning.

“For me personally, I have had experience with someone in the family who really abuses alcohol,” she said. “It is soothing to know you are helping to terminate this epidemic of teen drinking.”

Merchants who participated in Lehman’s bottle tagging and poster-hanging included A-1 Grocery at 3121 E. Tremont Avenue, Skibbo Discount Beer & Soda at 3156 E Tremont Avenue, and Susan’s House of Magic at 3121 E. Tremont Avenue.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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