Tackling underage drinking

There was a counselor, a police officer and an insurance agent, among others, on stage as panelists for the Sequim Parents and Resources of the East County Taskforce (PRoTECT) Coalition town hall on March 24 — but the most effective speaker was 18-year-old Sequim High School graduate Howie Price.

“There are a lot of parents out here tonight,” he said, addressing the crowd of 30 or so people. “You guys just have no idea (what children are up to).”

Price said he began drinking and smoking marijuana in the seventh grade and moved up to cocaine during his junior year of high school. Despite being arrested, being forced to go through a 12-step program and having spent over a month in juvenile detention, Price said he had to come to the decision to quit by himself.

“It came to a point during my senior year when it just wasn’t worth it anymore,” he said.

His mother, Grace Robinson, also took the stage to share her side of the story.

“The teachers at the school showed great support and interest in Howie,” she said of her son, who said he has been sober for 18 months. “The essence of who he really is is returning.”

Other panelists included Sequim Police Department School Resource Officer Darrell Nelson, Allstate Insurance Company agent Bill Bailey, Juvenile and Family Services youth-at-risk coordinator Joleen Goodrich and Sequim High School student assistance counselor Colleen Harker.

PRoTECT’s youth site activities coordinator Gwen Cole, who coordinated the town hall meeting with Sequim School District grant, resource and information coordinator Annette Hanson, said she wanted the community to be involved in solutions.

“We thought it’d be a nice way for our partners to share their resources and the community to have a say,” Cole said.

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